It's Your Time

What is a VA these days anyhow?

Posted by Red Butler Team on 05/ 23/ 17




So you're thinking of using a Virtual Assistant, but what exactly is a VA these days? With so many emerging technologies available in the marketplace, it can be difficult to navigate what type of support is ideal for you or your business. From bots to overseas freelancers, here's a breakdown of various services and how you can leverage them.



"Siri, order me a pizza." That's a very close reality. As a matter of fact, just last week Google announced Google Home's ordering capability. Of course, Amazon's Alexa can place orders and Microsoft's Cortana is just around the corner. With all of these various digital, human, virtual and text assistants emerging, we though it might be helpful to give you a breakdown of what VAs are in the marketplace these days.



A bot is a smart technology that typically reads your behavior, fetches information and occasionally performs a data driven task. Bots usually are embedded within existing applications, like Slack for instance. Bots are great for automatic and monotonous tasks, like pulling data from your Google Analytics account or letting you know how many messages you've sent in a month. Bots are great for recurring, data driven tasks and for organizing and triggering events or information. Bots are almost always free - just consider what data you're letting them have access to in exchange for that free price tag.


Digital Assistants:

Digital assistants, which like bots, pull from data and are typically embedded within existing technologies are usually text or voice activated. With a digital assistant, there is no human component. Instead, you can interact usually through text messaging and are able to impact third party software or even physical environments. For example, with a digital assistant you can add an item to your shopping cart, dim the lights in your living room or ask for a sushi recommendation nearby. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now have the promise for the most effortless experience and are best for home and personal "concierge" oriented use. Digital assistants are also free, but we expect certain features or capabilities to come at a premium in the near future.


Task Assistants:

Task assistants are great for short and personal needs. Many people utilize task based assistants to help out with small or simple to dos. Task assistants perform one off tasks that require little to no integration. There are both human powered and digital only task assistants. There's an app called Magic for example, where you can text a task and get something ordered for you, like food delivery. Task assistants are great for things like ordering food, finding a speciality item or quick research. There are US based task assistants and foreign ones that can range anywhere from $25 to $150 per month. If you make purchases with these task based assistants, they may also charge a small per transaction fee.



If you're looking for longer term support, but don't have strategic work, a freelancer may be your best option. Using sites like UpWork or Fiverr, you can search for individuals and hire them on contract. One challenge with Freelancers can be focus and translation, since they may live abroad and tend to manage a multitude of clients. Freelancers are great for projects, marketing, web design or specialty services like search engine optimization. You can hire freelancers hourly or by project at a rate of $5 to $200 per hour based upon their sepcialization.


Virtual Assistant:

A Virtual Assistant is ideal for a longer term, recurring and integrated relationship. While it's difficult to replace a full time team member in your office, a Virtual Assistant can be the very next best thing - at a fraction of the expense. Virtual Assistants range in experience, speciality, coverage and business model. One key challenge with a dedicated VA is the number of clients he or she may be assigned as well as employment retention. When hiring a VA, double check the company's vetting process. VAs range anywhere from $200 to $1,500 per month and are great at supportive work like research, marketing and scheduling.


Executive Virtual Assistant:

Whereas a Virtual Assistant tends to provide day to day support, an Execurtive Virtual Assistant takes on a proactive and core function within a business or process. EVAs are more like virtual employees that become a part of your business. In addition to providing traditional VA work, you can assign core duties to a Executive Virtual Assistant like answering calls or recurring functions like invoicing, data entry and more. Executive Virtual Assistants range anywhere from $400 to $2,000 per month and great for busy entrepreneurs, small companies and professionals. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes Red Butler is an Executive Virtual Assistant. From calls to research, we offer both front and back office strategic support.


Browse through our different services, studies and learn how an Executive Virtual Assistant can help you save time and money.   


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Topics: Productivity Tips, Virtual Assistant, Email

How To Clean Up Your Inbox Once and for All

Posted by Red Butler Team on 02/ 06/ 17



How many times have you been to tempted to just "Select All" and send your Inbox contents straight to the trash?



There are times when even the most important emails feel like a waste of time. In fact, inbox management is one of our most requested services at Red Butler for that very reason. Cleaning up your inbox is definitely a chore, but if you need to do it right away before you start contemplating a hermit’s life on a lonely mountain top, here are a few good tips:


Mass Delete, but Do It Right

One of the easiest ways to take care of a busy inbox is, of course, to mass delete. But before you go deleting things willy nilly, it’s a good idea to perform two quick steps. First, search your inbox for anything from your current project, or containing keywords that you know you’ll need to save (such as “financial reports”).

Save any emails that you need to keep in a separate folder, or back them up to a service like Evernote. Next, perform a search for the phrase “before:YYYY/MM/DD”. Choose a previous year or month that is far enough back to ensure that you’ve already finished those projects or tasks. Delete everything that pops up and voila! You are well on your way to a cleaner inbox.


Make Labels Your Friend

If you use Gmail, or any other email service that allows you to label your incoming messages, then this feature should be your new best friend. You can create custom folders and stash away incoming messages so that your inbox remains blissfully empty. Don’t need to look at that project bid till your scheduled time later? Into the project folder it goes. If your email app allows you to filter messages by sender, you can easily set this task up to be automatic, so that certain messages go straight to the right folder, rather than to your inbox. 

Gmail is an excellent service for this fact alone. Users can create 5,000 different labels, and even make sub-labels inside of labels. Perfect for complex projects and large corporations.


Opt Out of Reply All Chains

Sadly, there’s no easy way to truly opt out, besides asking to be removed (and thus setting off another round of replies). Instead, simply mute the conversation. Gmail and most email apps have this feature. Look for it under the tab that says “More” in Gmail. While the replies will still get sent to your inbox, taking up some of your storage space, you won’t have to see them. 

Remember that if you’re ever trying to clear out your email for space, be sure to check for any muted conversations that you can delete.

Gmail also has a handy feature that allows you to see at a glance if an email was sent to just you, or to a group. Enable the “personal level indicator” in Settings, and you can easily skim for emails that require your personal attention. 


Don’t Use the Public Address 

If your business has an email address that is publically posted on your website or social media accounts, don’t use this account for most of your business emails. Instead, allow that address to catch inquiries, and move the conversation to your email address as needed.

This type of account can be easily managed by our team at Red Butler, in addition to your regular email address. Learn more about how we can help you keep your inbox tidy and organized by checking out our service menu or contacting us today.



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Topics: Productivity Tips, Virtual Assistant, Email