January 2008  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 5 Issue 1   www.offassist.com
Endings and Beginnings

Time to send out forms and try to put 2007 behind me in a fiscal sense. I write about my love/hate relationship with January every year, so I've decided not to go into it AGAIN this year. That said, January is still the time to start thinking about your accomplishments over the past year and look for areas where there is room for growth or improvement. I think I said December was the time to do this, but, well, if you're like me, the only reflections you experienced over the holiday season were lights on your camera lens!

2007 was a crazy year for me. In April I took on the Presidency of the International Virtual Assistants Association. During the year I oversaw IVAA's huge website redesign and database conversion plus several other pretty big projects. Luckily - for me! - Tom works with me and was able to help make an incredibly busy year run smoothly. Despite the time commitment, I was able to keep my clients' work under control as well. Sure, it was tough, but volunteering with IVAA has been thoroughly fulfilling. I have 3 more months before I pass the torch on to my Vice President.

In the meantime, I would have to say that IVAA will probably be the first thing that comes to mind when I think 2007 - and that's a good thing :)

Here's to a prosperous, profitable, and downright fun 2008!

In this issue...
  • Learn how to get more subscriptions to your newsletter/ezine.
  • January tax deadlines & an important update for 2008.
  • Who is the Baby New Year? Find out in this month's Spotlight.
  • Learn about retainers in the Quickbooks Tip.
  • This month's Tech Talk is all about the alphabet of drive letters.

You're reading the OffAssist newsletter (we hope!), so you have a pretty good idea of what newsletter marketing is and how it works. Maybe you've even decided to add a 'zine to your marketing arsenal. Now, how do you get people to subscribe?

Creating A Newsletter Subscriber
by John Fortner

One marketing tool that can help propel your Internet home business to the next level is a newsletter. Many times a visitor will come to your online store but they will leave before making a purchase. Or, they place an order but you never hear from them again. A newsletter is an excellent method for convincing guests to become buyers or inviting clients to make another purchase.

How can you encourage visitors and customers to subscribe to your newsletter?

These five ideas can help build your list:

1) Have A Contest
When a visitor comes to your website, offer an opportunity to enter a contest. Tell them that a newsletter subscription provides a chance to win one of your products. This has proven to be one of the most effective methods for capturing email addresses. Winning can be very exciting and you will be surprised how fast the list will grow. Make sure to promote your contest in the upper fold of your home page. And offer a product your visitor can use.

2) Offer A Free Product
When a potential buyer comes to an online store, greet them with an offer for a free downloadable e-book or software if they subscribe to your newsletter. The word "free" can create a very positive response from possible customers especially if it is something worthwhile. Make sure the item is helpful. You don't want the first impression with possible clients to be negative.

3) Promote Your Newsletter
When a visitor lands at an online business, you don't have a lot of time to get their attention. Some studies indicate that the average duration an Internet surfer stays on a website is 10 seconds. Promote your newsletter on the top fold of the home page with a message that will compel the guest to sign-up. Briefly tell what the periodical will do to improve their lives. Motivate your potential customer with the benefits they will receive for subscribing.

4) Contact Your Customer
If your visitor becomes a buyer, give them an opportunity to subscribe through confirmation emails. Send a thank you message and ask if they would like to sign up for the newsletter. Again, give them a compelling reason to become a member of your list. Offer a discount on the rest of their purchases or suggest a free product. A great place to promote your periodical is through the email signature.

5) Remember Your Customer
Contact your customer periodically and see if they are enjoying the product. Encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter by explaining the benefits. Don't try to sell them anything. Instead, tell about the information you will send on a regular basis. Offer a free incentive if they will join your list. Chances are very good that the customer wants to receive information from you.

Creating a successful home based business is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together to form a complete picture. A newsletter is just one part of your marketing puzzle. The goal is to complete your picture to make money online through your work from home business. Newsletter subscribers equal potential customers and the more buyers that you create, the quicker success will arrive.

Article Courtesy of www.articles3000.com

John Fortner lives in Oregon and works from his home through his online pursuits. He is the owner of Best-Income Opportunities which offers free information and proven opportunities for creating work at home businesses.

QuickBooks Tip
Q: Our company would like to begin using retainer contracts for our client services. How can I accept my client's deposit or retainer up front and invoice the services we provided at month's end?

A: By setting up an Other Current Liability account named Client Retainers, retainers can easily be tracked by QuickBooks. A liability account is used because money is received up front for which services have not yet been provided it is an unearned retainer. The initial Client payment is acknowledged at the beginning of the month by creating a Sales Receipt. On the Sales Receipt, a service item is used, called Retainer, that is attached to the new Client Retainers liability account.

Once the services have been performed, an invoice is created for the service items provided. The Retainer item follows, and the retainer amount you are applying is entered as a credit against the invoice amount. Any outstanding invoice balance would indicate service provided above and beyond the initial retainer contract that is due and payable. Once the full retainer amount has been applied, the liability is fulfilled and the Client Retainers account is zeroed out. To see the status of the Client Retainers account at any time, a Quick Report can always be run which identifies the retainer received and the services invoiced against it.

Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of VA Lab Designs.

Tax Deadlines
January 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for December issued payroll

January 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly, quarterly and annual filers

January 31
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941
- Employer's Quarterly TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)
- Employer's Annual FUTA (Form 940)
- Forms W-2, Annual Wage and Tax Statement must to recipients
- Forms 1099-Misc, Miscellaneous Income to recipients
- Forms 1099-B, Interest Income Statement
- Forms 1099-Div, Dividend Income Statement

February 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for January issued payroll

February 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly

February 28
- Forms W-2 and W-3, Annual Wage and Tax Statement, to be submitted to the Social Security Administration
- Forms 1099 and 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

Important Tax News
We blogged this when we got the news, but wanted to make sure and spread the word. Mileage rates are going up in 2008. You can find our blog entry on it here and the 30-page IRS document detailing the whys and wherefores here.

Humor: Author's Audit

A mystery writer received notice from the IRS that she was being audited. She arrived at the appointed time and place with all of her financial records, then sat for what seemed like hours as the auditor pored over them.

Finally the IRS agent looked up and commented, "You must be a tremendous fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."

"Why do you say that?" she asked, puzzled.

"You've made more brilliant deductions on your last three tax returns than Sherlock Holmes made in his entire career!"
Tech Talk With Tom...
Renaming Your Drives

This month's tech tip started as an email response to one of our clients. I have to say, you guys really keep me on my toes!

I never realized that there were so many people having problems with drive letters - the letter name the computer assigns to a hard disk on your computer. People add external drives and their letters conflict with an internal drive. Or maybe they are connecting to a network share at the office. CONFLICT!

Luckily, Microsoft saw this coming. They made it very simple to change the drive letter of any physical drive (except for C:) on your computer.

To re-name a physical drive:
  • Right-Click "My Computer" > Select "Manage"
  • Under "Storage" > Select "Disk Management"
  • Right-Click the drive you wish to change > Select "Change Drive Letter and Paths"
  • Click "Change"
  • In the drop-down box, select the new drive letter
And that's it! No more conflict.

Unfortunately, changing network drive letters is a little more intensive. Please make sure you have the username and password for each drive before disconnecting!

To re-name a networked drive:
  • Write down the path for each drive (Usually something like \\\Remote Drive)
  • Right-Click each drive > Select "Disconnect" for each drive
  • Select "Tools" > Select "Map Network Drive"
  • Remap each drive
If you are at all uncomfortable with re-mapping your network drives yourself, I recommend having a professional do it for you.

That's it for this month. Happy New Year and we'll see you online!

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
Who is Baby New Year?

Have you ever wondered where that cute baby with the sash came from? You know, the one whose picture is all over the place every December. I'm talking about the Baby New Year.

The Baby New Year is typically portrayed as an infant, naked but for a diaper and top hat with a sash indicating the year he represents. Yes, the Baby New Year is always male. Before all the women get upset, the reason for this is because the Baby New Year grows throughout the year to become the old man, Father Time. Father Time passes off his responsibilities to the New Year Baby at the end of each year and the cycle continues.

The tradition of a New Year Baby has existed, in some form or fashion, for thousands of years. Early references from as far back as 600 B.C. credit the Ancient Greeks with using a baby to celebrate the New Year by parading the infant around in a basket as part of the festivities. The early Egyptians incorporated a baby, or the image of one, in their new year festivals, too. Over time the Christian faith acknowledged the significance of the baby as a symbol of new life by attaching the image to the birth of Christ, celebrated shortly before the end of the calendar year as far back as 336 A.D.

The Baby New Year was a symbol of rebirth and new life for the coming year to all of these cultures. While he is more decorative than honorary these days, the notion of Baby New Year is still a neat idea - a celebration of the beginning of each new year and a symbol of the potential the future holds.

Hope your New Year is your best yet - Happy New Year from OffAssist.
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Humor: Simplified 1040 forms
We've just been informed that the Internal Revenue Service has simplified its 1040 forms for next year in the spirit of becoming a "kinder, gentler" IRS. It goes like this:

(A) How much did you make last year?______

(B) How much do you have left?______

(C) Send in amount on line B.