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Finding the Right VoIP Provider for Your Remote Business

Looking for the Right VoIP Provider?

Three years ago, I embarked the journey of a lifetime when I turned my home-based business Buzz Promotions to remote-based. Since then, I am fortunate enough to have travelled across three continents and numerous new countries. However, my experience could not have been possible without modern communication technology granting me the freedom to expand my scope.

Believe it or not, the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of running a remote business was finding the right VoIP provider. It took the better part of eight months, hundreds of hours of research and dozens of calls to find a company that could meet my very specific requirements. While there is an abundance of great VoIP services in North America, each one comes with its own unique set of obstacles, especially in Canada.

Introducing… Line2!

Line2 was able to accommodate all my business and personal needs. Not only did Line 2 port over my existing number, it also hooked me up a toll-free Canadian number. In other words, I can call anywhere in North America, from anywhere in the world, on any internet connection. While local long-distance charges still apply as before with my Vancouver number, anyone in Canada can call Buzz Promotions’ business line toll-free. Moreover, if I miss a call, all of my voice mails instantly go to my e-mail inbox which has made it easy to return calls right away. Text messages, although not 100% reliable, are also free to and from other national numbers. Needless to say, for Buzz Promotions, Line2 is as a vital asset when I connect with promo staffing opportunities Canada-wide.
Line2 is a VoIP app that allows you to make and receive calls over Wifi and 3/4G. buzz promotions, voip provider, line2, remote working, finding VoIP, small business communicationsUnlike their few Canadian competitors, Line2 also enables texting to/from your number. It’s a small fraction of what we pay for our regular cell phone plans. Personally I chose to pay for a year upfront which came to $150. I ported in my cell number which means I transferred it from my old provider, Telus, to Line2. Since my cell number is now simply a Canadian number instead of a BC/Vancouver specific number (despite keeping the same area code) I can send and receive calls across Canada without long distance fees. I have no need for international calling since I use local sim cards in each country I visit (3G) and I rarely call outside of North America. That said, Line2 offers long distance credit at minimal rates.

One of the main problems I ran into with other Canadian VoIP apps is that even though they worked identically in Canada, they admitted to either horrible call quality or no capability at all while overseas. I was pretty thorough with my questions before I ported my number but ultimately it was a gamble once I stepped foot in Asia. I should mention that I also paid for a 1-800 number for my business. It was the same price ($150/year) plus a one-time $15 fee for the number. I have the line2 app both on my iPhone and on my desktop. Unfortunately you can only have one number connected at a time. It was a no-brainer that my cell needed to be connected to my cell number. I ended up forwarding the 1-800 number to my cell so now all calls come to my iPhone. I have my desktop app linked directly to my business line so when my laptop is open and someone calls my business line it rings on both my cell and my computer.

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Besides the functionalities mentioned above, Line2 has all kinds of useful features including a virtual assistant/operator, conference calling, choosing which number shows up on a receiving party’s caller ID, linking other non-line2 numbers to your directory, groups (friends, work) which you can have separate settings and greetings for plus all voicemails are visual and you’ll be e-mailed a sound-clip as well.
However, although Line2 offered great convenience, inevitably there are some downsides as well. For one, the app goes offline if you don’t use it for a certain period of time and if there is a disruption in Internet connection. This is a bit frustrating for two reasons: you have to re-open the app several times a day and will not always receive your calls/texts in real time. By doing so multiple times daily, the app drains iPhone battery. However, personally speaking, these challenges are a small price to pay to be able to make a living from a tropical paradise. I’ve easily adapted by carrying a couple extra battery cases and making it clear that if you don’t leave me a voicemail there’s a slight chance I might miss your call.

For a remote business owner like myself, Line2 is a necessity for the success of my company. For everyone else, if you’re willing to deal with a few minor inconveniences (although you’ll gain several benefits) you can save yourself hundreds or thousands a year.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I’ve done enough research for a lifetime. If you are interested in switching to Line2 and list Buzz Promotions as your reference, both of us will receive a $10.00 credit!

For more information…

• Please e-mail Andrea@buzzpromotions.ca with your full name and e-mail address with the subject line “Line2 invite”.
• You will be sent an URL and MUST sign up for paid service via this URL to qualify.
• You will receive your $10 credit on your 2nd month of service.

Wanted-Interns

Hiring Creative Social Media & Marketing Interns

Based in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Toronto and/or Montreal with opportunity to travel.

Are you obsessed with social media? Do you find yourself coming up with innovative ideas every day? Do you dream of working underneath a palm tree and dread the thought of a desk job?  Buzz Promotions is a Vancouver-based fully remote event marketing agency offering a unique summer intern-ship with the opportunity to advance to a well-paid position.  The training provided will be unpaid however we will negotiate a stipend for the hours worked and tasks completed (independent contractors working remotely). We’ve recently re-branded and expanded into Australia so we need someone dedicated and hard-working that wants to learn the ropes. We’re hiring 1-2 social media and marketing interns looking to get their foot in the door of the Event and Promotions industry or who dream of being able to work from anywhere. This internship entails assisting and implementing all marketing strategies essential for the growth of the company.  Our ideal candidate is an innovative thinker who craves learning new skills and takes pride in tackling challenges.  As an intern you will get to work with our director and marketing manager on real projects that will have an impact on us and on you. Our goal is to offer you a well-paid part-time remote position after your 3 month internship is complete. We are not another company looking for free/cheap labour. In fact, if you complete the internship, we will put together a portfolio of your projects that you can use for future endeavours.

Wanted-Interns

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to create a long term social media and marketing plan.
  • How to track social media analytics report results and new ideas to our marketing team.
  • The tools that allow a business to function remotely.
  • How to grow a network through on-line and off-line events
  • Additional SEO and WordPress skills.
  • Inside knowledge of the events marketing industry with exclusive networking opportunities.
  • Much more – you’ll be working closely with our team leaders.

Responsibilities:

  • Maintain and grow Buzz Promotions current social media accounts
  • Recommend and build a company presence on additional social media sites
  • Attend networking events and client meetings/calls
  • Develop and execute marketing campaigns and track effectiveness
  • Assist in writing/editing marketing materials including articles, sale sheets, and presentations
  • Update Buzz Promotions website using Content Management System (WordPress) and SEO
  • Assist in off-line promotional development and marketing strategies
  • Other duties assigned

Skills and Specifications:

  • Current or recent student in business, media & communications, web design  or event planning
  • Highly organized with ability to prioritize time-sensitive assignments.
  • Fearless – not afraid to be a bold outside-the-box thinker.
  • Love for using social networking sites and general.
  • Desire to learn and contribute
  • Knowledge of marketing principles and ability to apply new technologies to marketing principles
  • Ability to solve problems, analyze systems and data and suggest appropriate solutions
  • Highly self-motivated  and able to work individually with direction

If this sounds interesting we want to hear from you. The position begins in early June and ends September 1st.  Applications deadline is June 4th, 2015.

To apply please forward your resume and portfolio/samples of your work to andrea@buzzpromotions.ca

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Proud to be a digital nomad

If you asked me where I live I’d try my best to find an answer that would make you comfortable but the truth is “home” is not any one place to me.  In July 2012 I made the decision to travel around the world.  Exactly 8 months later, on March 20th 2013, I had turned my previously home-based business into a remote-based business, sold almost all of my possessions and left on the journey of a lifetime.  Since that day I’ve been lucky enough to travel across 3 continents.  I’ve lived in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Bali and spent months on tropical beaches throughout Asia.  The one and only constant in my non-conventional life is my job.

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I consider myself extremely lucky to live in an age where technology allows for freedom.  That said many of the people I’ve travelled with were surprised to learn just how much of my time is spent working.  Buzz Promotions was successful before I left but I had no idea if my success would continue to grow, or even if it was possible to uphold, once I left Canada.  On average I spend 20-30 hours per week in cafes working off Wi-Fi.  You will rarely see me on the beach without my IPhone and spare battery.  The truth is my nomadic life, freedom, flying to a new country every few months; these are the things that motivate me.  My job is my freedom therefore I hold it in the highest regard, perhaps more so than I did before I left.

One of the biggest career challenges I’ve faced is the reaction to working remotely.  Of course there have been clients and staff who’ve supported me and I am grateful that they have.  There’s also been a fair share of eye-brow raising, hesitation and non-acceptance.  I’ve come to terms with people not understanding my constantly moving life-style or the ins and outs of a business with virtually no in-person interactions.  Even though I accept these hesitations, I cannot personally relate to them.  With Skype, VoIP phone services, on-line banking, Dropbox and social media I can honestly say I’m MORE connected with my staff and clients now than I was when I was working from my home office in Canada.  Of course I can’t be physically present for events but I make a point of being engaged to the fullest extent from the other side of the world.  Even in Canada, a lot of the time I was dealing with people in other provinces.  It wasn’t until after I left that this became a concern for some individuals which in-turn prompted me to keep everything as under wraps as possible. 10297661_10202593180688612_4707537901734429805_n-300x225

Over the last two years I’ve run into many like-minded people, including several associates from Canada.  I’ve found myself surrounded by opportunities to grow my business and provide valuable information/opportunities to my existing clients and staff.  Recently I created an Australian branch of Buzz Promotions during my time down under.  I’ve scoped out chocolates in Belgium and leather boots in Bangkok amongst many others.  I made a point to reach out to the owners of these small businesses to create a lasting network that literally spans the globe.  I believe these connections are assets to me and I am an asset to them.  This goes for all my existing contacts “back home” in Canada as well.  I’ve decided to use this blog as a platform to inspire and teach others based on my own experience.  If somebody is hesitant to hire me because our physical distance makes them uncomfortable that’s okay.  If the last two years of travel have taught me anything it’s that you should find connections, both personal and professional, that align with your goals, beliefs and opinions.

by Andrea Johnstone