Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Monthly Archives: May 2015

7 Steps to Starting Your List — Part 4

Subtitled Boring But Important 

(or how to avoid calling your lawyer) 
Computer generated 3D photo rendering.

Computer generated 3D photo rendering.

If you’re anything like me (and if you’ve got a good spam filter set up), you’ve got a folder FULL of completely useless and unwanted email that has been sent to you, much of it illegally. In this article we’ll discuss how to avoid sending SPAM. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the following is copied directly from the Federal Trade Commission CAN-SPAM Act compliance guide.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

In the “Related articles” section, I’ve included the Federal Trade Commission CAN-SPAM guide and the Anti-Spam policies from MailChimp, AWeber, iContact, and Constant Contact. I highly suggest reading through them (if you ever are suffering from insomnia).

The important take-away from this is that if you are creating a mailing list, and if you use an email service such as MailChimp or AWeber, as you walk through the setup and as you add people to your lists, the service has automated ways of making sure that you are complying with their Anti-Spam policies. If you hire someone to send out mail for you (using one of the web-based mail applications or using your Gmail or Outlook), you are legally responsible for anything sent in your name.

Related articles

Finally, a review of the previous (and upcoming) posts on this topic.

  1. Build your list — define your target email audience.
  2. Create Freebie Offer
  3. Promoting your sign-up form
  4. Remember CAN-Spam
  5. Set up your program
  6. Create your email
  7. Test and Track

AND — since I realize that this topic is incredibly boring (BUT EXTREMELY IMPORTANT), I’d like to leave you with a final thought.

Tuesday Tip – Avoiding the Link to Nowhere

Links Key Showing Backinks Linking And Seo

Links Key Showing Backinks Linking And Seo

Tuesday Tip – Avoiding the “Link to Nowhere”

At least once a week I run across the “link to nowhere,” where someone has put a link on their website, LinkedIn profile, email, or Facebook that is incorrect. As someone who is aware of the ability for people to make errors and a basically nice and supportive person, I will typically send a message saying, “Oh, by the way, your link is broken.”
But I wonder, between the time a person has set up the incorrect link, and the time I discovered it and informed them, how many times has someone seen something like this …
 and moved on to someone else providing similar services.
So, as you’re looking at your website (and others), test the links. And if you run across someone with a missing link, send them a nice note to let them know. They’ll appreciate it.

7 Steps to Starting Your List — Part 3

Email Envelopes On Screen Showing Emailing Or ContactingOver the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing email in detail. By the end of this series, you should be able to start up a list and keep it running. Here are the items we’ll be addressing:

  1. Build your list — define your target email audience.
  2. Create Freebie Offer
  3. Promoting your sign-up form
  4. Remember CAN-Spam
  5. Set up your program
  6. Create your email
  7. Test and Track

We’ve already given some thought to your target audience (your clients and strategic partners) and your free offer. Today we’ll talk about your sign-up form. In the “Related Articles” section below, I’ve added instructions from MailChimp and iContact on how to add a Sign-up Form. Most email marketing platforms have fairly good instructions for how to set up. But how do you actually get people to sign your form? Here’s some ideas. Put it EVERYWHERE. If someone knows you they should EASILY be able to find out how to sign up for your email list. Some of the ideas I’ve seen used:

  • Email signature file – everyone you send a email to, be it a client or a vendor or a joint venture partner or someone you met networking and you’re following up with, sees your email and your signature line. Mine has “Sign up for my newsletter and receive 3 Simple Steps for Getting Started in Social Media.” It’s one line at the bottom of my email, it doesn’t interrupt any messages; but if someone does take time to look for contact information, they do see a way to receive my email.
  • LinkedIn – In my LinkedIn summary, I have the following sentence: “To get weekly insights into client communication through social media, blogs, and newsletters, sign up for her newsletter at” While it doesn’t allow someone to go directly to the link, by the use of a and a simple name, they can easily find their way.
  • Website – Link to your sign-up form from your website.
  • Invoices – Add a sign-up form link to your invoices.
  • Trade Shows – Collect names at trade shows (make sure it is clear you’re adding someone to your list – we’ll talk more about this next week).
  • Speaking engagements – Offer a drawing or incentive to people when you’re at a trade show or when you’re speaking at a networking event (again, make sure to make it clear you’re adding them to your list).
  •  Facebook Sign-up – If you have a Facebook Page for your business, one of the options available is to link to a sign-up form.  If you look at the picture below, you’ll see where the Sign-up icon is on the Social Media Examiner page.

fbsignup As you can see, there are many ways to get the word out about your mailing list. Do you have any great ideas? Leave a note in the comments.   Related articles

(Rough week — sign and sing, form and from – I’m putting my proofreader through his paces today).

Tuesday Tip – Cloud Based Contacts

ID-10079666I've recently gotten a new cell phone. My former one wouldn't charge, and it was getting quite inconvenient. Getting a new phone is at once exciting and confusing. The average life span of a cell phone is two years, and a lot of changes happen in that amount of time.
One thing I haven’t had to worry about since 2008 though is how to move my contacts from one cell phone to another. Once I got my first Android phone, I discovered the advantage to having my phone linked to my Google account. All my contacts can follow me from my desktop to my laptop to my phone. I can have names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, birthdays, and any other information filed away in my contacts. This is not only convenient when changing phones, it also connects to other applications on the phone (the one I use most often is maps if I’m heading to someone’s house).
Woman Showing display of her new touch mobile cell phone

Woman Showing display of her new touch mobile cell phone

Another form of cloud-based contact storage is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. A few clients and colleagues I know use a CRM platform called Contactually. This keeps all of a person’s information available on a phone or computer or tablet. Contactually (and I assume some other CRM platforms) also keeps your messages together by contact. So if you can’t remember when your meeting with Wilma is you, can go to her contact information and it will have your emails and your chats and your text messages together (except for Facebook messenger because sometimes Facebook decides it doesn’t want to coordinate with other platforms; and being Facebook, and being free, they can choose to do that).
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

7 ways to start your list today! Part 2

Email Envelopes On Screen Showing Emailing Or Contacting Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing email in detail. By the end of this series, you should be able to start up a list and keep it running. Here are the items we’ll be addressing:

  1. Build your list — define your target email audience.
  2. Create Freebie Offer
  3. Create your sign up form
  4. Remember CAN-Spam
  5. Set up your program
  6. Create your email
  7. Test and Track

Remember your HOMEWORK from the previous post in this series? (I’m pretty sure you haven’t done it yet, so you can do it now). I suggested that you think about your email prospects and their challenges, frustrations, pain points, aspirations, hopes, and dreams.

Find something they need that also showcases your products or services. Here’s a list from the Hubspot article listed below:

Balloons With Free Coming Through Computer  Shows Freebies and Promotions Online

Balloons With Free Coming Through Computer Shows Freebies and Promotions Online

  • Ebooks
  • Guides
  • Webinars (Live & Archived)
  • Slideshows
  • Kits
  • Industry Case Studies
  • New Industry Research
  • Templates
  • Free Tools
  • Free Trials
  • Product Demos
  • Consultations
  • Coupons

As you can see, that’s quite a few ideas. I’ll give some examples from some people that I know.

Evie Burke at One Insight Closer offers a PDF of her Priority Insight Tool. I’ve gone back to this tool quite a few times when I’ve gotten overloaded.

Beth Majerszky at Simply Be Coaching and Retreats offers 7 days of  audios and activities to help you be open to more joy.

Michelle Smith at Z and B Consulting offers a video training for helping you find your target market. (If you don’t know your target market, checking that out will help you determine who you are looking for as a client).

Different people with different ideal clients and different offers. But the offers are meant to entice people to sign up for their list.

Do you need help determining your free offer or your ideal client? Set up a meeting with me if you need a hand.


Do you have any specific questions about or challenges based on email? Leave a note in the comments.

  Related articles

Tuesday Tip – the POWER of social media


Social Media Computer Key Showing Online CommunityTuesday tip — we’ve been having problems with our Internet/Phone/TV service. The trouble started a while ago and it’s been gradually getting worse. And (of course) there never seems to be an actual problem when the technician is in the house.

My spouse works for a major telecommunications firm and works out of the house most days. As a virtual assistant my work (and income), are tied to having the technology I need at my finger tips. About two weeks ago our services started to go completely out — on a semi regular basis. We had our “box” replaced and it got worse instead of better.

SO – last week I sort of blew a gasket. People that know me well know that this is something that doesn’t often happen — but the gasket blew. In addition to doing what I’m supposed to do (call the provider when there’s a problem), I added the step of complaining, regularly, on Twitter. With the provider tagged.

Today the technician came up and somehow managed to replace some wiring that has not been replaced that was quite torn up. It looks like it’s been that way for a while.

twitter-312464_640I have no idea why this wasn’t discovered in all the other service calls we’ve had over the past many months. I certainly hope the problem is fixed now and we’ll have reliable service.

But if we don’t — I’m going to call the provider AND take to the Twitter-verse.

It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and in 2015, the squeaky wheel sounds like a certain little blue bird.


5 Days of Celebrating Small Business #5

May 4-8 2015 is National Small Business Week. SBA_NSBW2015_FINAL_v2

I’m going to mark this occasion by posting some business tips (for small businesses) and articles each day geared toward small businesses.




IMG_6150The “Mom and Pop” meme. We’ve all seen it, that ubiquitous meme that surfaces every now and again that talks about how if you’re doing business with a small, locally-owned business, you’re helping someone get gymnastics lessons or helping a family pay a mortgage. While this is sort of sappy and sentimental, it’s also quite true. We need small businesses, and we need large businesses. (I really don’t want my neighbors to start designing and building and selling cars – we have neither the equipment or the know-how in my small neighborhood.)

But at this point in time I want to make one thing very clear. There may be some small business owners that are buying soccer gear or donating money to local charities – however, if you’re doing business with Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant for the next 4 years, you might as well just write out checks directly to The University of California at Berkeley.  — GO BEARS


Related articles


English: This is the logo of University of Cal...

English: This is the logo of University of California, Berkeley (Cal) Athletics for its own sports-related articles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)