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How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant Business
Second Edition

How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant BusinessWritten by Janice Byer and Elayne Whitfield-Parr, this NEW book includes information and tips to help aspiring and established VAs with every aspect of starting and building a Virtual Assistant business.

From naming your business, to upgrading your skills, to expanding your business, we have put together everything you need to know based on our combined years in this industry and the input of successful VAs worldwide.

Read more and order your copy today!

http://www.va-book.com


Business Building Ebooks

Titles include:

  • How To Respond to RFPs
  • Easy to Understand & Implement Search Engine Optimization Techniques
  • How to Set-Up & Start Your First Blog
  • and many more.


See our Ebooks


Small Business & Web Design Blog

 Since 1999, we have been publishing Virtual Tidbits filled with articles, links, tips and resources to help small business professionals.
Now these articles and more are archived on our blog.

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Equine Web Design

 

 

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Spam: Not my idea of a lunch meat anymore – Part 1
by Janice D. Byer, CCVA, MVA
Docu-Type Administrative & Web Services
 

In the previous installment in our series on spam, we looked as some ways to help reduce spam in your Inbox. In this part we will look at more ways to help and also what we need to do in the future. 

Avoid free email services:

Free email services, such as Hotmail or Yahoo, are fabulous to have if you want to access email while not on your main computer. They have most of the same features as hosting email accounts, including spam folders, but there is vulnerability. Having an email address that ends in @hotmail.com is more likely to receive more spam as there are hundreds of thousands of combinations for the prefix of the email that spammers can guess at. There is a higher positive ratio meaning they are more likely to guess a valid email address with so many to choose from. 

Encode your email address on your site: 

There are various ways to try and block email harvesters from grabbing your email address from your website. First, don’t actually type the email address in text on your page. Instead, put your name or ‘sales department’ or whatever want it to say on your page and include the link to your email address in the coding. 

You can also try a couple of approaches to encode your email in the actual coding of your website. First, you can put some Javascript coding that will help block spammers. It should be noted though that this only works against the infiltration of older or less enhanced harvesting programs. Some of the software has the capabilities to decode the script and display the correct email address. The following is a sample of coding you can use: 

<script language=”JavaScript”>
<!--

var name = “youremail”;
var domain = “yourdomain.com”;
document.write(‘<a href=\”mailto:’ + name + ‘@’ + domain + ‘\”>’);
document.write(name + ‘@’ + domain +’</a>’); 

//-->
</script>
 

You simply replace ‘youremail’ & ‘yourdomain.com’ with your specific information.  

You can also try adding HTML coding directly in the link to disguise it from spammers. The coding replaces one letter before and one letter after the @ sign. The harvesting programs cannot get your full email address and it gets tossed out of the distribution list. Of course, those who write the programs will (if they haven’t already) find a way around this trick one day. It doesn’t hurt to try it though so give the following a try in your HTML coding: 

a    &#97;

b    &#98;

c    &#99;

d    &#100;

e    &#101;

f    &#102;

g    &#103;

h    &#104;

i    &#105;

j    &#106;

k    &#107;

l    &#108;

m    &#109;

n    &#110;

o    &#111;

p    &#112;

q    &#113;

r    &#114;

s    &#115;

t    &#116;

u    &#117;

v    &#118;

w    &#119;

x    &#120;

y    &#121;

z    &#122;

 

 



For instance, my email address is jbyer@docutype.net. In the ‘mailto:’ coding in my website, it would read jby&#101;r@docutyp&#101;.net (I have replaced an e before & after the @ sign with &#101;).
 

Use designated email addresses: 

We have our business email addresses which are available online and hopefully will be blocked from harvesters, one way or another. However, try not to use that business address for non-business related reasons. For instance, if during your busy day you enter a contest, have a backup email address to use as your contact address, preferably one that does not use the same domain name as your business email (ie. @docutype.net). To avoid using the same domain name, you may need to consider getting a free email account. 

Turn off “catch all” instructions: 

As was mentioned earlier, some hosting companies have it set up by default or you can set up ‘catch all’ instructions for your email. What the catch all will do is tell the mail server to send anything that ends with your domain name to your email account, even if you have not actually set up an email alias with that name. Turn this feature off, if possible. It will cut down on the influx of spam mail but you need to be sure that those that you want to hear from have your exact email address.  

Don’t agree to “added correspondence”: 

When filling in email forms, you may see a box that is already filled in asking you if you would like to “receive special offers from our partner sites”. If it says to check the box for yes, it might be best to uncheck the box. Those “partner sites” are more than likely going to be marketing companies that send out mass emails for clients.  

If that type of box or question is not on the form (or in the rules, etc.), then look for a Privacy Policy that states that your email address will not be used for anything other than why you are entering it on the form in the first place. If they don’t have a privacy policy, be sure the source that you are sending it to is a trusted source and that the possibilities of them selling their contact list is minimal. 

Never click on links in spam: 

By clicking on a link, you are verifying that to the respondent that your email address is valid. They code the emails to track the results… and you!  

You should also avoid buying anything from spam emails. Perhaps by realizing that their mass email campaigns are costing them more than they are making, spammers will give up and use more ethical forms of marketing their wares like the rest of us. 

What does our future hold? 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it doesn’t look like there will be much that can be done about the problem in the immediate future. Using filters and tricks is simply a Band-Aid solution as it only helps to stop spam from getting through. The real problem that needs to be rectified is the spammers themselves… those that are sending out millions of unsolicited and unwanted emails.   

The laws that are in place in some regions have not been all that effective as of yet. Perhaps stiffer penalties for spamming? Who knows? 

Task forces will continue to be formed and perhaps one day the right answer, or a combination of answers, will be found. There will probably even be plenty more laws passed. However, I am not holding my breath that there will be any miracle resolutions found but that doesn’t mean I completely give up on the prospect of having less (or no) spam emails in the future.  

Government, business and private sectors, and consumers need to work together, take stands against spammers and find the solutions that will empty our Inboxes of unwanted emails.  

To read the whole 3-part series, visit http://www.docutype.net/press.htm

 


Janice Byer, owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services, provides professional, creative and affordable virtual office assistance and small business website design. She is a Certified Canadian Virtual Assistant (CCVA) and Master Virtual Assistant (MVA). She is also the author of Surfin' The Net - Docu-Type's Virtual Collection of Links, which is filled with the secrets of her success. Visit her website for more information and to get your copy.


 

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