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If then, then that is a popular web service that lets you make connections between different channels by creating recipes.  There are 87 channels available – they’re the building blocks of the system.  The recipe is a set of triggers and actions.  You may not get it yet, but let’s take a look at some examples.  This is a little diddy that’s even easier than sending an email that I’d like to keep into my Evernote account:

if this then that

When I set up this recipe, I’ll connect both my gmail and my evernote accounts, tell IFTTT (pronounced “ift” like gift) which notebook I want the starred email to go into and that’s it.  IFTTT will start to send every starred email into my evernote account.

There are thousands of combinations that you can use.  You can create recipes to send all your check ins, links posted to Facebook, or favourited tweets into your Evernote account.  You can create a recipe that will call your cell phone if your name is mentioned on Reddit.  Looking for something on Etsy?  Set up a recipe that will keep watch on the site and email you when its found.

Workaholic?  Set up IFTTT to send you a phone call when it’s time to stop work.  Or have it post on your personal Facebook page when you update your business page.

This short video (under 5 minutes) is going to show you exactly how to do it. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and let me know how you’re going to use IFTTT.


Even though this is written for a virtual assistant, you can apply these strategies to absolutely any business.

1.  Hang your shingle.


Despite the easy-to-manage start up costs, there is some work and costs that need to be handled first.   Get a website – while it doesn’t have to be a $10,000 job, it shouldn’t be a free website nor should it be something that looks like your neighbours kid did it in his spare time.  Don’t be afraid of getting started. (Seriously – do what you can … just take a look at some of the examples from my 5 year old business to see what I mean)

Set up your social media sites.  If you’re not sure where to start, grab a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account.  If you’re industry happens to be something that relies heavily on photos (think: photographers, graphic designers, crafters), add Pinterest to that list too.

You also need to start updating all these things.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT start by selling.  Start off by posting some things that your audience is going to find educational or funny.  You want to give them a reason to start to follow you.


2.  Power search on Twitter


This is what worked really well for me when I started.  I spent a lot of my time searching Twitter for people who used the term “virtual assistant”.  Every time I got a hit, I checked out the tweet and if it looked like a hot lead, I immediately checked out their website to see what they were all about.  At first, I would send an email that went something like this:

I’ll bet your recent post sent a flurry of activity to your twitter account.  Please feel free to visit my website:  You can pick up a copy of my free eBook Going Virtual that will help you determine how you can best use a Virtual Assistant.  In the meantime, if you’d like to try our services, please accept this coupon for 10% off our services! 

Shortly after this tactic (which worked well and I did snag a handful of clients), I started creating a template that had all my information in it, but was easy enough for me to whip up quickly to personalize the communication.  These also did remarkably well.  I’m sure most people realized that I didn’t type the entire thing up a few moments before sending it, but they appreciated the extra bit of time and effort it took to create them. They looked a little something like this:


original RFP graphics


The last version of these looked a little more like this.  The main difference between these two is that the one on top was used in reply to someone who was looking for a VA, but who didn’t actually come to me first.  The bottom version was used when people had contacted me and set up an appointment to talk about working together.

new RFP template

3.  Word of mouth


Let your family and friends know what you’re doing.  You never know who they might know.  This is where I had the least luck but it may work better for you.  This works really well for people you used to work with, especially if it’s in the same type of industry of the clients you’re going after.  On that same thread, I’d stay away from working for family and friends.  It often doesn’t work out the way you’re hoping and someone is going to be in an awkward position if they have to fire the other.

4.  Plain ole’ advertising


You don’t have to be a big shot to start advertising.  You can get crazy inexpensive ads on Facebook which not only helps you with your social media building, but it’ll bring the right people around your websites.  I’ve had business cards for the entire time my business has been open, but for me this just didn’t work.  I still recommend people order some, but try to keep the information as generic as possible so you can use it for a long time.  Unless you’re doing in person networking, you just aren’t going to go through many of them.


Your turn:  how did you get your first client?





I promised you guys a little side education as I figured out Facebook advertising and taking my wee fan page to something a little more .. substantial. So let’s get started with a little change in mindset.

1.  You make money. It’s OK for Facebook to make money too.  If you’re broke, you can still play in Facebook’s playground but do yourself a favour and take a class or two prior to diving in.  Save yourself some time, money, and headaches.

2.  Facebook adapts and changes.  Could you imagine never doing anything differently in your business?  Me either.  It makes much more sense to roll with the changes rather than pick up your bat and leave the diamond whining about the new rules.

OK – set … ready to dig in?

Facebook Pages


For most of you, this isn’t something that even needs to be mentioned, but I’m still running into businesses who are using their personal profile page as the face for their business.  Or worse, they’ve set up a group to help connect people together.  Don’t.  Just don’t.  Figure out how to get a proper fan page and get it up and running.  And while we’re at it – don’t go around asking what social media profile you should be setting up.  The answer is simple: set them up where your audience lives.  Not sure?  Set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIN and see where it takes you.  Or better yet, ask.


Facebook Advertising


I’ve been learning a lot over in Sandi Krakowski’s Inner Circle.  I’ve pinky sworn not to divulge her teachings elsewhere, so you should suck it up and try it out for a month.  You won’t be disappointed.  One of the things I’ve done is actually started posting on the damn page.  Smart, right?  In the past few weeks, I’ve started following her content map for posting.  You can check it out on her site, and I’ve adapted it slightly to include 3 graphics, 3 text inspiration posts, 2 questions, 2 text advice, and 2 resources.  I’ve been posting these once an hour between 8am and 8pm so I can start to see what’s working best on the page.  I’m looking for the times and days when the posts are being viewed the most, the days/times that show the highest level of engagement, and even what types of posts people seem to enjoy the most.

Eventually, I’m going to do a walk through of actually setting up the ads inside of the ad manager but for now I want to tell you about something I’m itching to try – website custom audiences.  Some people call them WCA’s or re-targeting.  I prefer the ‘follow-me ads’ since that’s exactly what these little buggers do.  In a nutshell, you put a teeny bit of code on your website and then set up your follow me ad.  I’ll show you an example.  Recently, I found Jon Loomer (brain crush!) and checked out his website.  When I was on Facebook after hitting his website, I saw his ad.  I’ve seen this before – suddenly whatever I’ve searched for shows up on every Facebook page I’m on, but I love the way Jon did his ad.  Here’s what showed up in my news feed.  Let’s say someone checks out my VA Business Plan eKit but doesn’t buy it.  I could use a follow-me ad to target those people specifically.  Why?  Most people need to see something several times before pulling the trigger to buy something.




Picture Changes


Have you noticed how awesome pictures show up on Facebook in the news feed now?  Everything is slightly larger, including the size of the ad graphics on the right hand side.  If you’re advertising, that’s a huge bonus, right?  No explanation needed there.  But they’re also changing the way they’re showing up in your feed, which means you need to do some changes in the pictures you use.  Check this out:


The Unofficial Guide to Facebook

Your turn.
In the comments below, tell me how you would use a follow-me (or any!) ad in your business.