4 Free Tools for Content Sharing Automation

4 Free Tools for Content Sharing Automation

If you are a true leader you probably read and learn a lot. If you are like me, you have your Hour of Power sessions when you read and research.  Many times you come across great content that you’d like to share with your audience. The challenge is that if you share all your interesting articles at once the chances are that your audience won’t see it, because in this digital age our social news feeds get updated every second and unless your followers come specifically to your page to see what kind of cool stuff you got for them today, it is probably going to get lost in their newsfeed. So your goal to make sure you share your content on the best days of the week and on the best times of the day. Can you possibly accomplish that? Probably not unless you are a social media manager who stays online for hours and manages accounts live.

The following 4 tools help me share OPC (other people’s content) throughout the day and week while I’m busy with other work. This is not just a list of automation tools but instead these 4 tools make a complete content sharing automation machine if used together. So pay attention and don’t miss any steps!

I. FEEDLY

  1. Start with signing up for Feedly and add content by choosing the blogs, publications or topics you like to read about.

4 Free tools for content sharing automation | Outsource Hub - Feedly

Some great Blogs for real estate investors to follow are:

Of course there are more great blogs, so if you have some suggestions please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

  1. Now get Google Chrome extension for Feedly so you can easily use it with your browser.
  2. If you have a smartphone, you can also get an app for Feedly. It will allow you to read articles from your favorite sources straight from your phone or iPad.

II. POCKET

Now let’s talk about Pocket. That’s the app that will allow you to store articles that sparked your interest but you do not have time to read them right that moment. Just like Feedly, I have Pocket app on my iPhone and an extension for my Google Chrome browser.

4 Free tools for content sharing automation | Outsource Hub - Pocket extension

What else is cool about the Pocket that you don’t even have to always read the articles you have saved! You can listen to them! Yep, you read that right! Driving and got some time to catch up on the saved to Pocket articles? Go to your phone app, plug your headset, pick the article and listen to it. Voila!

4 Free tools for content sharing automation | Outsource Hub - Pocket

Pocket also allows you to easily add the articles you read to you Buffer queue. And there are a couple ways to do that, but we’ll cover it the next section when we talk about the Buffer App. which brings us to part 3.

III. BUFFER

Get setup with Buffer app same way as the previous two tools: sign up for a free account, Get Chrome extension and download the phone app.

Free account allows you to connect up to 4 social media accounts. So let’s say you choose Facebook Business Page, Twitter, LinkedIn Profile and LinkedIn Business Page. You can always upgrade for an Awesome plan for just $10/month (or $102/ year) when you are ready to connect more accounts!

Once your accounts are connected, set up the schedules for each account. This can be changed later on as you will be monitoring your interactions, which Buffer will help you with. Try their Optimal Timing Tool, which will suggest you the best time for your posts. You can always learn more about how to use this tool from their Blog and email Newsletter, which I suggest stay tuned for.

IV.  IFTTT

Now let’s add one more ingredient in this content sharing automation mix. Go to IFTTT.com and get an account. This tool is too awesome to cover everything it can do it this one post, so I suggest you go watch this Video Tutorial (24 min) at your leisure, but for now, I want you to go ahead and connect your Buffer, Pocket, Twitter accounts to it.

Now let’s create some recipes. There are virtually thousands of amazing recipes you can set up using IFTTT that will help you to automate your business or personal life. I suggest to do a little research into existing recipes and see if you find any cool ones that might be helpful. In the meantime there are 3 you can start with right away that will allow you add a little automation in your content sharing strategy:

  1. Add your favourite Pocket articles to the Buffer queue to be shared in the scheduled time. What this recipe will allow you to do is automatically add articled you market as “favourite” in your Pocket to Buffer.
  2. If you are a twitter user, you might scroll through your newsfeed a few times a week or maybe each day, there could be some interesting articles you’d like to read later. How to store them to come back to them later? This recipe will allow you to save your liked (favourited) tweets in your Pocket
  3. Just like with Twitter, there are times when you see an interesting article on Facebook but do not have an opportunity to read it right the way. This recipe allows you to save to Pocket if you share the desired posts to “Only Me”.

4 Free tools for content sharing automation | Outsource Hub - Facebook & Pocket

This completes my content sharing strategy. All these tools are super easy to use but I still suggest to read their blogs and learn the tips these brands have to offer about the usage of their products. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Did you find this strategy useful? Did yo face any challenges? Do you have anything you would like to share from your personal experience? Looking forward to seeing your comments below!4 free tools for content sharing automation - bit.ly/automationtools

Outsource Hub is currently running a limited offer on using our own Marketing Assistants that we have already trained and have been working with for years, it’s limited because our VAs only have that much of a free time left in their day and we can only offer this service to people who are truly ready, and not just think that they need to market online.

LEARN MORE

 

3 Questions to ask yourself before you say the “O” word

3 questions to ask yourself before you say the "O" word

Everyone wants to outsource. It’s the famous buzzword that every entrepreneur hears makes the difference in facilitating their success, while giving them more time back in their life. Heck, it is in the name of our company – Outsource Hub. I’m writing this not to teach you how to outsource, or explain how outsourcing works (that is the mission of Outsource Hub), but to talk about what you need to know before you even say the “O” word.

Fact: Not everyone should, or is ready to outsource

1. Where are you with your business?
2. How much do you know about your industry?
3. And most importantly, do you understand what your roles are once you start outsourcing?

 

This isn’t to say you need to have tons of experience behind you, and be an industry leader in order to start outsourcing. Yes, experience does count for a lot. But experience isn’t only measured in months or years. What I’m talking about is having a command of your industry. You cannot outsource what you have not done yourself before. This is so important. Perhaps one of the most desirable parts about outsourcing is that you can now delegate the tasks that you hated the most. Perhaps it’s calling prospects, or researching for prospects online. But if the things you hated doing are vital to your business success, don’t you think it’s important to have the experience doing it before you delegate it? Because your virtual assistant (VA) may be better at it than you, but it is still your business. I believe it is critical for every business owner to know how every function of his/her business should run, to have been in the trenches to understand what his/her employees are doing on a daily basis.

Adrian quote

Now, you may be saying this isn’t always the case. It depends on what you’re outsourcing of course. In some cases, your VA will be able to do things you never dreamed of doing (such as organizing your emails, creating spreadsheets and other software hacks to make your business more organized and streamlined). Stuff that you have never done, and may never have to do ever. But what I’m talking about are those tasks that are industry-specific, that most business owners feel they can just tell a VA to do and it’ll magically get done. This works in 2 ways – 1) it will enable you to help explain it to your VA better, and 2) should there be any hiccups during the process, you can easily troubleshoot it with your VA.

Finally, you need to understand your role in the process.

Once you’ve decided which tasks you will delegate to your VA, understand that you still have your role to play. Your VA is not a miracle worker and business doesn’t magically happen just because he/she is on board. Think about it this way — if there are 10 things on your plate, your VA may take 7 things off so that you can focus on 3 (either things that you are good at, and/or things that you absolutely need to do that cannot be delegated)… but you still must do those 3 things. A very simple concept, but very important to point out.

Ladies and gentlemen…. let’s get ready to Outsouuuuuuurce!

 

Outsourcing Craigslist tasks to an Overseas Virtual Assistant

This is a very frequent topic that has been asked among those real estate investors who post on Craigslist, most notably those who use virtual assistants to post on Craigslist. So this article goes into a fair bit of detail for how to do this as effectively as possible.

Craigslist is a real estate investor’s goldmine, but also the source of many headaches and heartaches. As Craigslist is regulated by the Craigslist community, all bets are off when it comes to what posts remain or get deleted or flagged. [note: this article is written with the assumption that you already know the basics of Craigslist, and instead is going to focus on how to make sure your posts have the best chance of playing by the rules and not getting deleted or flagged as inappropriate].

Here are the main variables that you must take into consideration:

  1. Posting Frequency
  2. What is your ad copy?
  3. Create ‘dummy’ email addresses
  4. Change/Hide your IP Address (for your VA)

Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Posting Frequency

This is the #1 question you must answer for yourself — how frequently are you planning on posting? This by itself will determine how complex your (and your VA’s) posting tasks will be. As a general rule, Craigslist dictates that you should not post in the same section of Craigslist more than twice in a 48 hour period. If you abide by this rule, then it’s very likely that you will not encounter any difficulty. However, even if you abide by these rules, if your ad copy (see #2 below) contains keywords or language that trigger what I like to call “Craigslist Jail”, then your ad could be flagged, removed or ghosted.

However, if you know you will likely need to post more frequently than the Craigslist-recommended guidelines, then you’ll need to come up with a more complex plan. This involves looking at the following variables – #2, 3 and 4 below. Read on for more details on how to do this!

2. Ad Copy

It’s impossible for me to go into the nitty gritty of this, but in general, you’ll probably want to use best practices when coming up with your ad copy. If you really want to be professional, see if you can find a copywriter who can help you with the verbiage for your ads, but in general, there is basic etiquette when posting to Craigslist, and lots of articles in the real estate investing world out there for you to borrow ideas from.

The most important bit of advice I’ll say here is that you should come up with several different examples of ad copy, so that you can rotate your ads/posts for as frequently as you want to post. The reason here is that the Craigslist “bots” out there will probably not pick up on the fact that you have rotating ads out there, instead of the same 1 or 2 ads being copied and pasted over and over and over and over again. Just use a little creativity and create a document (hint: use Google Drive documents for easy sharing with your VA) that has all of your ad copy so that your VA can choose which ads to use and when (see end of article where I talk about creating a schedule for your VA).

3. Create “Dummy” Email Addresses

This is very very important. Create a dummy or throwaway email address, and use it to create your Craigslist account. Always have this dummy email address forward to your main email (or your VA’s email if using a VA) so that the replies can be monitored. The reason for this is two-fold. First, have several of these dummy email addresses and Craigslist accounts so that you can then do multiple posts per day under different accounts to lessen the likelihood of getting flagged (note: this strategy must be combined with #4). And secondly, despite your best efforts following the rules, you may still get flagged — so if you do get flagged and.or your account gets banned by Craigslist, it’s best that this isn’t your personal email account, but instead a dummy account whereby you’d just then need to create a new dummy account, set up the forward to your personal email, and resume with posting on Craigslist.

4. Change/Hide your IP Address

IP stands for Internet Protocol, in this case referring to your Internet Protocol address, which is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a network. In layman’s terms, your computer/laptop connected to your home WiFi network has a unique IP address. So even if you create 10 dummy email addresses (as shown in #3), if you do this all from your home computer (or your VA does this from his/her home computer) — it all registers as the same IP address, which Craigslist can pick up on and flag your ads, or worse, block your accounts.

Note here that I’ve heard cases where people feel that using a VA in a foreign country, with a foreign IP address, can lead to instantaneous blocking by Craigslist. This is not entirely accurate. I say not entirely, because remember that Craigslist is community-regulated, so it is very possible that any foreign-based IP address that posts too often will get immediately flagged as violating Craigslist terms. However, it is not a blanket statement, as we have personal experience with foreign VAs doing this with no problems whatsoever. This is why the #1 variable I mentioned in this article was Post Frequency. If you are keeping within the Craigslist regulations, chances are your VA will be OK.

But back to changing or hiding your IP address. There are 2 ways to go about this. You can use web-based IP proxy servers (ex. www.us-proxy.org), whereby you can generate a U.S.-based IP address, and then have your VA change his/her browser settings to be configured to display that U.S. IP address.

The 2nd way is to use a VPN service. I’ve found that the paid services out there are more effective than the free ones, but by all means try them out. Your VA will know instantly if it works or not. Examples are www.hidemyass.com, www.cyberghostvpn.com. The process is the same, but typically have more reliable IP addresses for your VA to use, and they won’t slow down your browser when used (a problem that may exist with using IP proxy servers).

I apologize if I brutalized the actual tech-terms for these, as I’m not a tech-head by any stretch!! But I do know what works. So if you’re a tech-geek, please don’t crucify me too much in the comments section! 🙂

Creating a Schedule for your VA

Now that I’ve gone through all of the variables, it should be up to you as the boss of your business to create a schedule for your VA to make this work. Your VA is only as strong as the instructions you give him/her.

Start with creating your ad copy — create a document that has at least 3 or 4 variations of your ad copy, and label them (Copy #1, Copy #2, etc.), and share this with your VA.

Then create a spreadsheet template of a Posting Schedule. Train your VA to create a number of dummy email addresses that all get forwarded to your VA’s main email address. You should be OK with just 2 dummy email addresses to start (again, depending on your posting frequency). IF your account gets blocks, then just have your VA create another dummy account, and keep it moving. Then have your VA trained to use IP proxy servers or VPN service as needed, to generate unique U.S. IP addresses. Then here’s the key — the schedule should show how the VA will rotate between using different dummy emails addresses and IP addresses, to sort of play “keep-away” so that it’s much harder for Craigslist to catch on with what you’re doing.

Will this work all the time, everytime? No – this is why I reiterate again that the goal of this is to create a plan for your Craigslist posting. But with this, you won’t sit there crying that your Craigslist account has been blocked, or all of your ads have been flagged, and you don’t know what to do. It can be simple, or it can be complex, but as long as you have a plan, you can go back and tweak it to make it work. Because there’s never a one-size-fits all when it comes to Craigslist posting!

Haven’t hired your VA yet? Check out our previous post How to hire a Virtual Assistant to help with your Real Estate business

How to hire a Virtual Assistant to help with your Real Estate Business

There are a few common questions that we’ve noticed people ask in real estate networking groups and forums regarding Virtual Assistants (VAs):

  • How to hire a VA
  • How to train your new VA
  • What tasks to outsource in your real estate business.

At Outsource Hub, we understand the overwhelm a newbie real estate investor may feel about this topic, as we were once beginners ourselves and have been through all of the struggles associated with this process. And it is the good, the bad and the ugly of working with Virtual Assistants, using agencies to help us source candidates and constantly running into bad hires that inspired our team to put together our own strategy of scouting for great candidates.rsz_outsource_hub_-_3_categories_of_virtual_assistants_2 But before we let you into it, let’s quickly think about what are some tasks that we as real estate investors need help with on a daily basis (here we’ll just talk about tasks that can be done remotely, as there are obviously some tasks where you’ll need local/on-the-ground help).

  • Online lead generation
  • Property marketing
  • Outbound calls
  • Social Media marketing

And here is what we found:

VAs are human! Surprise surprise… What I mean is that they can’t be good at everything you might need done in your business, so we put together this infographic for our categorization of virtual assistants as it relates to real estate industry-related tasks.

We are showing just 3 categories here because these are the essential tasks that most real estate investors are doing. Of course there are other categories that may be important to your business, such as web and graphic design, article writing and so on. Our goal is to share our knowledge and experience about virtual assistants in the real estate niche.


 

Now lets talk about the actual steps to hiring your virtual assistant by yourself. We say ‘by yourself’ because there are agencies that offer to do it for you and there are a couple of structures that are out there. First, when they just provide you with a candidate and you take it over from there, and second, where they actually stay in the middle and help you rsz_vtss_-_website_[infographic_-_1]_1manage your VA to some extent. It is up to your personality and current situation to dictate which option will work best for you. But first let’s break down those steps of hiring a great VA.

STEP 1. Post an ad on one or few of the following sites:

  • Odesk.com
  • Elance.com
  • EasyOutsource.com (will cost $20 but you get a wide access to Filipino VAs only and the rates can start from $1/hour *good for beginners, to try and outsource data entry tasks while still learning. And it doesn’t mean you get a bad person, the VA can be a beginner him/herself and still be a fast learner and very bright person)
  • Onlinejobs.ph

 

STEP 2. Read resumes:

  • Of people who are applying to you
  • Of those who have their profiles on the site already – yep, don’t forget about those guys, as you might miss a great candidate that is already working for others and not actively looking to add more hours, but will take them on, if you offer. Like Odesk allow you to search by people by ‘Job Success’ – which means The percentage of a freelancer’s jobs that resulted in a great client experience. Cool, right? So do not miss those candidates!

STEP 3. Give test tasks:

Do not just blindly hire someone because they have an awesome resume! Believe it or not, people lie. We see it way too often when an applicant claims to have experience in Social Media marketing and all that means to them is posting what you told them to post on Facebook… in my book that is NOT experience nor a skill! On the other hand you have those saying they have experience working with real estate investors. This does not mean that you don’t need to train them and explain what you are looking for!

My favorite question is to ask them to describe to me in details what they mean by each experience and skill they claim! But that’s just me.

But back to the tasks! I suggest 2 types of test tasks:

  1. Business related. Meaning that it’s exactly the task you’ll want  them do for you: give the candidate your instructions and have them work for you for one shift. See how they grasp the task, what kind of questions they ask, if they are bright, involved and hardworking, or the opposite? Yeah, you don’t want the opposite.
  2. Non-business related. Let me explain, I want people who are working for me and with me to think outside the box, because… well, because you can’t fit my brain and ideas in a box and sometimes I ask my VAs do things that have nothing to do with their direct tasks but are important for me personally. So I would ask things like recording a video of them doing something. This really helps me to see how well we can communicate and how responsive my candidates are.

STEP 4. Hold interviews:

Note this comes AFTER you have tested their skills. Because most people will fall out after Step 3. So you only talk to 3-5 people who passed your test.

Here are a few technologies you might want to consider to be more efficient with organizing these interviews:

  • If you have a busy schedule and do not have time to go back and force trying to set a time for appointments, setup a Calendly account and invite your candidates to see your availabilities and make an appointment with you.
  • Use Skype or Google Hangout to meet your candidates ‘in person’. Both service are free, so if you don’t have an account, it’s free to sign up. Make sure your potential VA knows you are having a face-to-face call and makes sure to have a working web camera. We find it very important to let people know, because many simply don’t have a webcam on their computers. But if you let them know ahead, they will borrow one from friends and you will have a nice face-to-face chat.
  • Google Spreadsheet – if you don’t have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software), you can just create a simple spreadsheet with few columns with most important things for you so you can keep track of your conversations and your opinion about each candidate. Trust me, it’s easier to take notes as you speak, then try to recreate them later or try to remember what you liked or disliked about one or another candidates. Do they have good eye contact? How are their verbal skills (if it’s important for your task, e.g. Category B of VAs). And simply their name and contact info so you don’t have to go back to the sites you got them from. Include link to the resume for future references.

STEP 5. Hire and start training:

Now we won’t talk about specifics of the training here because that’s a whole other topic. But I would like to make sure I tell you everything I know you’ll need for this step. So pay attention!

  • Choose ONE candidate! Chances are you’ll like 2 or 3 people and will want to keep them all. Set your priorities straight and only take on what you can take on right now! DO not feel obligated to hire all the good guys, keep their info on file and come back to them when you are ready to grow your team, so choose just one for your first time!
  • Discuss payment method. If you are using Odesk, this problem is already solved for you. We use PayPal. Also make sure you discuss WHEN and HOW OFTEN you pay your assistant and stick to it! Sometime that $100 every two weeks seems like a drop in the ocean for an American, but if your Filipino VA is supporting a family, trust me that money is huge for them and they need it on the day you promised, as they get spent before they come in the door! Don’t ever delay your payments!
  • Start by telling your new hire about your business. Who you are, where you are located, what you do, how you do it and share your goals so the VA knows what to expect from you. If you are a real estate investor, you might want to make sure your VA understands also the industry you are in! Give him/her our VA Quickstart Guide to study and test how they understand terms most applicable to their tasks. The VA Guide is FREE, so download it now and use away. We made it for you and your team 🙂
  • Use screensharing tools like: Skype, Google Hangout and Join.me to train your assistant. Or record a screencast (Check out a free tool called Jing or go further with Snagit – that’s what we use and love).
  • Communicate well and check performance daily! This is essential especially in the beginning to establish the rules and make sure your VA knows you are watching him/her and doesn’t think about slacking. Have them send you clock-in/clock-out emails, request to record video showing how they do task (no more than 2-5 min, so you can see and make sure they are doing it right).
  • Stay on top. Never neglect your VA, respond to their questions quickly so they can do their best work. Use online chats for that (again Skype, Hangout or even Facebook messenger – whichever you always have on).

 

Outsource this whole hiring process and go back to money-producing activities. How to save time hiring a virtual assistantAs the example below shows, it takes a couple weeks and in excess of 10 plus hours to hire that one VA. It is up to each business owner to decide where his/her time is best spent.

Our team is offering our services in scouting for your ideal virtual assistant, so you can save time and go straight into the training and not worry about screening and testing candidates. Our promise is to provide you with 3 best candidates we could find that fits your ideal VA description. Your job is to pick one and move on to the training process. As simple as that! Check out this 3-step process infographic to see exactly how our service works! Just order, tell us what you are looking for and pick your VA. We do the rest! If that sounds like a service that would be beneficial to your business, order it here and Virtual Talent Scout Service team will be on it’s way of making this happen for you.

If you know someone who may benefit from this article, please share it using the sharing options below. You can also leave comments or send your questions and recommendations to info@outsource-hub.com. Thank you for reading!

Morning Person or Night Owl? Why not be BOTH!

So you’re a morning person. You love to get up at the crack of dawn (or maybe earlier!), and get a headstart on your day. Or perhaps you’re a night owl, burning the midnight oil maybe because this is how you got through all of your college midterms and exams, and the habit sort of just stuck around.

night-owlI’m naturally a night owl. Always have been. Yes, a bit of that comes from spending late nights partying when I was younger!

But I do notice that I’m my most creative and inspired to work between the hours of 10:00 pm and 1:00 am for some crazy reason. But almost every success blog or book will tell you the secret to success is waking up at 5:00 am, maybe even 4:00 am to tackle the day and set yourself up for success. And this post is not meant to discredit this, as I am a firm believer in patterning yourself after others who are more successful than you. So I figured I had to start going to bed no later than 10:00 pm in order to even attempt to get close to 8 hours of sleep and get a headstart on my days as I tried to become a morning person.

However, it’s not always that simple. Years and years of your body being conditioned to being up late did not make it easy to fall asleep before midnight. There’s something called the body’s natural sleep phase that is not as easily corrected…or perhaps my will power is too weak (or too strong, depending how you look at it). And then of course there’s the fact that my most creative and productive hours are now being sacrificed for this experiment.

So I decided to try a new experiment — something that I’ve been routinely doing for over 2 years now. Being both a morning person and a night owl — simultaneously! WARNING – this isn’t for the faint of heart
(or those who love to sleep)
. For some strange reason I have a hard time falling asleep before 2:00 am. Yet I do strive to wake up at 6:00 am every morning (let’s face it — 2 hours of sleep is a nap. 4 hours of sleep is a bit more do-able). Sometimes this becomes 6:30 or 7:00 am, so I would get anywhere from 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. To me, this is PLENTY!

Do I feel tired and groggy in the morning? alarmHonestly, no different than when I get 7 or 8 hours of sleep – so what’s the difference?! My secret is that I hit the gym and get a good morning workout in to start the day…which energizes me and has me sharp to start my day by 9:00 am (which was when I’d wake up normally when I was only a night owl).

There is no science behind any of this, and this goes contrary to all other blogs, books, or general logic. Or those telling me “you need to have 8 hours of sleep”… I hate people telling me “I need to”……I am just telling you what’s been working for me. And I don’t want to sound like every other motivational blog out there that makes it look like the author is Mr. or Ms. Perfect. I slip from time to time and sleep in a bit…or maybe miss my workout occasionally (rarely!!). But I have successfully established a routine where I can achieve the best of both worlds! I am highly inspired toward achieving my goals and dreams, and I don’t allow sleep or life’s typical conventions to restrict me from moving toward that target!