PUHLEAZE PEOPLE

Yes, 2nd time in a row. You know my lovelies – I don’t do this – But I am desperate. And desperation makes you do strange things. But no, I am not “ashamed”. As Barney said and I reverently quote:

In my body where the shame gland is, I have second “Awesome” gland”

I NEED a VA who can provide support to a Malaysian-based startup. VERY cool people – Silicon valley can’t wait to get their hands on ‘em but being nearly as awesome as me and Barnacle dude, they obviously flip their hair and say “No”.

OK – so to the point.

Need a VA to work from home to work from 9 AM to 6 PM US Pacific Time. Good money – I assure you. US accent a must. Doesn’t matter what gender you are (or are not). Simple work for someone with common sense (ever wondered why its called “common sense”? Seems pretty uncommon to me).

If you know someone have him/her contact me ASAP. Of course want a Pakistani national. Come on my pretties – help a fellow girl in need. If you don’t like helping fellow humans, I am gonna try the “Puss In Boots” on you.

VA, virtual assistant, virtual assistants, virtual assistance, work online, work from home, vacancy

Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

 

Social Versus Cultural Enterprises

I got to meet Sharmeen Chinoy – cool, eh? It was a US Embassy and HEC joint seminar about Acid Attack Victims (of course). I am sorry I almost snoozed through most of it so am not a good judge of how it went. Don’t even remember who was present. If interested, read this excellent roundup by Zainab Khawaja here. You may see me in some of the photos she has put up .. ;)

Also met the US Ambassador to Pakistan’s wife, Dr. Marilyn Wyatt.

We are BFFs now. Proof =========================================>>>>
Read an article recently in Social Edge that made me sit up and go … huh? Everyone knows know how big a supporter I am of social entrepreneurship. In a turbulent country like Pakistan business coupled with social good really is the elixir we are looking for. At the recently held Youth Entrepreneurs Conference a lot of the kids thought a social enterprise is a not-for-profit. KILL ME SOMEONE! NO, social enterprise is NOT synonymous with a not-for-profit – though a a #socent may also be a not-for-profit. Put simply a social entrepreneur is made when she (the feminism continues!) notices a problem in society like energy crisis or lack of clean drinkable water or women empowerment and comes up with a solution for it. The next step then is to find out if the solution is sell-able – if it can solve the ‘pain’ of a customer. For example, with Women’s Digital League, I am working on economic empowerment for educated Pakistani women who are discouraged from working outside their homes. At the same time WDL is providing affordable digital services to clients based around the world. At the end of the day, whatever the purpose, at the core of every business lies profitability and scalability. If I receive millions of dollars every month but can’t pay my utility bills  how long would I be able to sustain my love for helping humanity? And paying salaries is the same as profit – as you grow you pay yourself more the same way you would take home more when you start getting more profit.

The article introduced a new concept to me – cultural entrepreneurship. Here is how it defines it:

Cultural entrepreneurs … solve problems by disrupting belief systems—using television shows like Glee to initiate viewers into the disability or GLBTQ rights frameworks or the Twitter campaign #mensaythingstome, designed to expose anonymous misogyny online.

It’s hard for me to distinguish between the two. Ain’t Women’s Digital League changing mindsets by giving women the opportunity to work from home? That’s a shift from the conventional way Pakistanis are used to working. So where do I put WDL? So how is a TV show like Glee an enterprise? Or how is a Twitter hashtag campaign an enterprise? I find the whole business vs. enterprise thing very confusing.

So an enterprise is a “purposeful endeavor”. Then why isn’t a business the same too? Isn’t creating a new product, increasing profits, scaling, permeating markets an endeavor with a purpose as well?  And if by ‘purpose’ we are referring to ‘social good’ then what’s the point of separating social enterprises from just enterprises?

I am losing it. Help!

On a less thought-provoking note, am waiting for the list of finalists for GIST I-Dare Business Plan Competition which will be held in Lebanon (fingers crossed / Palms together / whatever whatever). Am holding a one-day quick session on leveraging the power of Internet for free marketing – this is in collaboration with Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and is targeting SMEs by local women. Applying for a grant from the US Embassy for Pakistani Alumni for my Hunza people … oh I how love them and wish I’d see them one day. Also, I turned 33 this month. Yippppeeee.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

$0.5 for 2 Hours Anyone?

ImageFirst things first – was looking for an image to express anger at oDesk – typed in “mad at oDesk” and found this. Loved it, and hence it’s there – it’s my blog – deal with it. Now, to the topic ….

Do you know how friggin’ hard it is to write “high quality articles with no plagiarism, that read naturally and are 500 words +”? Over 2 hours! Back to oDesk – lurking around, pouncing on decent projects that don’t have a “No Pakistanis Please” policy. It makes me furious when I see the high expectations and the price clients are willing to pay for the work. $0.5 for a 500 words article … WTH! And then they usually follow it with how its going to be a long-term assignment and they will need about a 100 articles per month. A $125 which roughly equals Rs. 11k is ridiculous even for Pakistan.

To be a good writer you must have a higher degree in English, or should be an A-Levels student at the fanciest, most elitist school that only a very few can afford in Pakistan. A typical Pakistani professional who works at a dead-end 9-5 Government job that he (notice how I am not using my favorite gender here!) probably acquired by paying a bribe to some politician is not going to be able to write a decent article fulfilling all the client’s requirements. And why in God’s name would a person with a good Master’s (yeah, we have good and PATHETIC) or a kid that goes to a school that boasts of it’s own Pizza Hut and McDonalds franchise want to work for $125 k a month? 

A request to clients: it’s OK if you can get your work done for $0.5, no one is forcing these people to bid in the first place. But when they are unable to come up to your expectations please don’t trash them. After all, you get what you pay for. 

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. Those of you searching for “Angry Mom”, yeah you are at the right place. 

oDesk Wire Transfer

Went back to my oDesk account the other day after a long, long time. They have added an option for Wire Transfers now. For a moment I was excited. Yipppeeee … no more signing up for Payoneer and waiting forever to receive the card. No more setting up Skrill (formerly Moneybookers). I quickly went on and set up my account only to find out oDesk charged $30 per withdrawal via Wire Transfer. WHAT THE HELL! So the portal charges 10% of the withdrawal amount and then another $30 for the transaction and then another $4.99 as currency conversion fee. It’s ridiculous considering most of the tasks pay $1/hr and the fixed price projects are like $4 an article (for example). I can write about 5 500 word articles a day so let’s say I have a good month and write 5 articles every day for 30 days that would come to around 150 articles and a total earning of $600. oDesk subtracts their 10% and another $34.99 for the transaction and that leaves me with $505.

So for a whole month worth of work I get what? Only $505!!! Recently an SEO client-turned-friend from the US said the low rates were the fault of the contractors. They bid so low in order to get a job it makes the rates so pathetically low. It’s sad how the low employment rate in our country and in others like Philippines and India forces people to work for peanuts. I know how hard it is to get work on these portals and maintaining a good rating. There are predators out there that will hire you for pennies, give you an impossible task (25 articles 500 words each in 3 days) and when you deliver they will still bug you over the money threatening to give you a bad rating if you complain to the admins. It has happened to me so I know what I am talking about. And if it comes to the worse and you do go to the admins, chances are they will side with the buyer. So what options do online workers have?

What has your experience been like using these portals both as clients and service-providers? I know you will never comment coz you are probably here looking for info on “honesty and generosity” as per my stats. But miracles happen. Which reminds me of MJ … :'( “And I believe in miracles, and a miracle’s gonna happen tonite … “

Do it Desi Style

My pretties, I’ve been away too long. Logged in every day, wanted to say hello but always chickened out … writer’s block sucks. But been very happy to see you have all been coming here looking out for me (The Stats Don’t Lie). I love you all too.

But here is what finally made me come out of my miserable, pathetic condition. I made FB friends a few days back with the guy to whom I owe my love affair with online work … Monis Rehman. WHO IS MONIS REHMAN?! Yeah OK … like all of you, I didn’t know about him until a couple of months ago. But I knew his company … Ladies (and only ladies … sorry Gentlemen, I like ignoring you), heard of Rozee? I mentioned it quite a few time on my blog but never tagged it because let’s accept it … anything Paki ain’t poppin’ and imma too cool. *puke*

Lemme tell you my own awesome story once again; I was a school-teacher who had recently left my job and had my fill of lying in, and the urge to ‘do’ something was back with a vengeance. I knew people could get jobs online but had no clue how. So I naturally turned to my best buddy; Google. Stumbled upon Rozee just by chance … was surprised to see a market for online content writers … felt like singing A Whole New World from Aladdin … got my first break with a lady running a content writing shop from her home in Multan (yeah, I have told this story like a gazillion times but it’s for the benefit of new readers … stop being b****y), filled ether-sphere with absolute trash ranging from Benefits of Buying a Condo in Connecticut to How to Get Cat-piss Smell Out of your Carpets, and a lot of other things I am not proud of … but hey, I needed a distraction and it worked (and paid like less than a dollar an hour #SlaveLabor). And then,as they say, the rest is LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!

Why am I retelling something I’ve milked to the max already? It’s for your own good dudettes, stop being cynical … how many of you have tried getting an assignment on oDesk or Elance and ended up saying things your moms should wash out your mouths for? The solution is simple … why did I never think of mentioning it before (???) … look for something on a desi portal like Rozee. There is another one too doing quite well … uhhhhhh … yeah, it’s called Mustakbil. I dunno much about the latter but Rozee is owned by a gentleman from Lahore called Monis Rehman, who also happens to have founded Naseeb which is a matchmaking website for Muslims in the US and the UK. In case you are not impressed enough and thinking of going off for that pedicure, here is why you shallow ones should sit up and take notice: his ventures were funded by investors who backed Google, PayPal, LinkedIn and Zynga (we all know FarmVille, right!). There are an astounding 5000 companies using Rozee as a job board and if you are worth anything, I’m sure you’ll find a good fit for your skill-set.

Wait for a post on another job portal that I am absolutely fascinated with … if you know me at all you should know what I am talking about … ;)

So, if you are not getting any joy on other portals definitely check out Rozee.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Plus: I am more mean than usual because I’ve OD-ed on Gossip Girl the past couple of weeks – no apologies though! ;)

Generosity and Honesty

The image just struck me as funny so I added it. :D

I know it’s hard being a good girl in a b****y world especially when you are working as a businesswoman. You are discriminated against, laughed at, scorned, harassed, laughed at some more … and when you make it to anywhere … anywhere … you want to bite back. But somehow … it’s not satisfying. I have tried it. It just makes you more bitter. This is what I have learned. If a client comes and asks for help with a research paper while your forte is SEO, TELL HER! Don’t pretend you can do it when you know you can’t, or at the most will only produce mediocre results. If you know of someone who specializes in research work, refer the client to her. You may think, WHAT? HAS THIS WOMAN GONE NUTS … she wants me to give business to a competitor? But trust me your honesty and generosity can bring you in more work than harming your credibility by promising something you can’t deliver. The client may refer someone else to you, the person you send business to may send clients she can’t handle to you … there are endless possibilities.

Recently, I hired someone to build my website. He promised to get it done by first week of August. After chasing him up every second day and literally begging him for feedback or details regarding progress, a week before the deadline he told me he couldn’t do it because he was having trouble giving me feedback!!! WHAT??? Yeah … true story sistas. So now he didn’t just lose one client … I am NEVER gonna refer him to anyone. In fact, if someone asks for my advice on hiring him I’ll tell them to run in the opposite direction.

Same thing happened with the assistant I was gonna get. I interviewed a few, really liked one, took her out for lunch, she seemed promising. We chatted for 2 hours, decided on all terms and conditions, salaries etc. The day before she was supposed to join  I texted her to tell her I was excited about seeing her the next day, and she calmly informed me she couldn’t join for xyz reason. It was horrible I tell you. Now if she had just been honest with me and told me she wasn’t happy with the salary or she had found a better job or whatever in a timely manner I would have respected her for it … and maybe in the future if she ever needed a recommendation I’d have been happy to give her one. But there you go …

As always … I am having trouble ending the post …. so …

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Blog from a Sleepy VA at 2:45 AM

Am sitting up waiting for a client on the US East Coast send me an email rgearding an urgent project he wants done. I have to wait for the email because it’s an urgent task (did I use the word “urgent” before?). So if you are just starting and you love your sleep and can’t even think of ever having dark circles – please do yourself a favor and find another job – this ain’t for you.

Almost 3 weeks back from the US and I have yet to start delegating responsibilities. It’s Women’s Digital League – emphasis on the plural. If you have been a VA for a year and have 5 or more clients, go and hire a fulltime assistant. It can get pretty crazy. I am hardcore and can take it (bow) but not everyone is me (bow some more).

But seriously, jokes aside, this is what I tell all women that show an interest in becoming freelance VAs – just becasue you are working from home it doesn’t mean it’s an easy job. I work 14 hours some days and I can’t sleep because I keep waking up to check my email or to reply to Skypes. If I keep this up for another 2 years, I am sure pretty soon I’ll either get insanely rich or I’ll go bonkers. Starting a startup is easy. You wake up one fine day and think, “God, people are so stupid – why haven’t they thought of this idea? I better go out and show them how to do things.” But, making it succeed is a whole other story. Being poor doesn’t help either. So yes, as someone told me, you can do business the rich (wo)man’s way and gamble a million dollars or you can do business the poor (wo)man’s way and rely on your spirit and passion. However, if someone asks you what you prefer please don’t be a starry-eyed fool and go for the latter. Money helps.

I need help – psychological help.

Past 3 AM – still no email … still no sleep … I better get rich … WDL better become a success …