PROOF IS IN THE PROOFING

Proofreading

I write this post, because yesterday I had a lot of writing assignments to do including emails and I had typos and misspellings in every piece I wrote. It was a bad day, but it was a great day to learn a BIG LESSON.

Computer desk

Always Proofread Your Work Before Posting Or Sending It Out!

I was overwhelmed yesterday by the amount of work I had to get done and I skipped the Spellcheck feature as well as re-reading my work. At the end of the day, I felt I had wasted my time. The emails I sent out were not my usual, carefully crafted work. Typos, in my opinion, are inexcusable. Did I keep up my work schedule? Yes! But at what cost?

 Lesson Learned

It’s not the quantity of the work; it’s the quality of the work that matters. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to submit anything for a wide audience, but every member of your audience deserves your full attention. Your work should contain new ideas or at least another way of looking at existing ideas. That makes you and your work stand out.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

My virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, specializes in writing projects. Yesterday was the worse day I’ve had at the office in quite a while, but it will never happen again. I’ve put measures in place, so I will never rush through a project or skip steps to get everything done on time. I usually finish my projects ahead of schedule. I pride myself on doing that, so any last minute changes will not keep me from submitting my work on time. Skipping steps is not one of the ways to meet deadlines.

Proofreading Girl

What Exactly Is Proofreading?

According to https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Proofreading, “proofreading means examining your test carefully to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling.”

The Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin also lists some “helpful tips, when you proofread:

  • Work from a printout, not the computer screen. (But see below for computer functions that can help you find some kinds of mistakes.)
  • Read out loud. This is especially helpful for spotting run-on sentences, but you’ll also hear other problems that you may not see when reading silently.
  • Use a blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you’re reading. This technique keeps you from skipping ahead of possible mistakes.
  • Use the search function of the computer to find mistakes you’re likely to make. Search for “it,” for instance, if you confuse “its” and “it’s;” for “-ing” if dangling modifiers are a problem; for opening parentheses or quote marks if you tend to leave out the closing ones.
  • If you tend to make many mistakes, check separately for each kind of error, moving from the most to the least important, and following whatever technique works best for you to identify that kind of mistake.
    For instance, read through once (backwards, sentence by sentence) to check for fragments; read through again (forward) to be sure subjects and verbs agree, and again (perhaps using a computer search for “this,” “it,” and “they”) to trace pronouns to antecedents.
  • End with a spelling check, using a computer spelling checker or reading backwards word by word.
    But remember that a spelling checker won’t catch mistakes with homonyms (e.g., “they’re,” “their,” “there”) or certain typos (like “he” for “the”).”

I usually proofread my work at least 3 times before submitting or sending it out. Yesterday was the exception.

Upset Girl

Why Am I So Upset About This?

Perception is everything, when you’re in business. Potential customers and clients see your work as in indication of what THEY can expect from you. If there’s typos, misspelled words, or bad punctuation; then they will look to another business to fulfill their needs. That’s why it’s so important not only to make a good first impression, but to consistently perform at a high level, so your business persona shines and stands out from the rest.

Perfect Pose

No One Is Perfect, But Practice Makes Perfect!

That’s why it’s so important to do your best at all times. As a virtual assistant, I strive to maintain high standards and share those standards with all of my clients. Proofreading makes perfect!

Did you ever have a bad proofreading experience ?  Share it below. 

 

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Networking Through Press Releases

What is a press release?

headline

 A press release, also known as a news release, is a few brief statements that outline the major facts of a news story in journalistic style. It is also an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter, such as a new product or service, a company sponsored event or employee promotions.

Social Media

With the explosion of social media, the press release is now considered a form of networking. Instead of creating a brochure, white paper, or advertising campaign, the press release provides the perfect opportunity to broadcast news, new products or services, personnel changes, company expansion, and a host of other newsworthy topics. Rather than going through the local newspapers, social media broadcasts the press releases in many forms and at lightning speed, so businesses can keep everyone up to date on changes within the business and any brand changes.

People Networking

Why is this considered networking?

Networking comes in many forms. Almost any type of marketing involves networking. You may think of networking as a business event “after hours”, but networking is any time information is exchanged between the company and potential customers or clients. Networking is meant to create a bond between the product/service/company and potential customers/clients, so anytime someone is interested in your company’s news, product, or information that is a form of networking.

Successful networking involves person-to-person contact as in a meeting, phone call, or event. Press releases used to appear only periodically and only for important events within a company. Now that social media has created an ongoing platform for all kinds of information, the press release is easily used to relate information as often as needed.

Can press releases really take the place of networking?

A true press release is more formal than a quick bite of text in social media and it is usually a page long and can contain photos, charts, or graphs. Pieces of the press release can be inserted into social media, so within a short period of time, the entire message or news is out on social media. Broken into small bites, it is sometimes easier for readers to understand. They can digest small snapshots of information, which makes them eager to read the rest of the announcement.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

Virtual Colleague, LLC can get the results you need!

Press releases are easy enough to write up. After all, it relays information. You need someone, who knows how to write and get the message across briefly and succinctly, while creating interest in the announcement.

As a virtual assistant of Virtual Colleague, LLC, I can write press releases that not only convey the message, but also create the desire to know more about your product or service. Contact me today at 401-595-0087 for a free consultation. We will discuss your announcement and how I can relay more than just information to help your business grow.

 

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VIRTUAL COLLEAGUE LLC MISSION STATEMENT AND VISION

Mission

A mission statement, according to BusinessDirectory.com, is “A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.

Vision

A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment.”

Virtual Colleague, LLC, a woman-owned virtual business, is a virtual business specializing in writing projects and general administrative tasks. This business works on individual projects or tasks rather than on a permanent, full-time basis. This saves the clients’ money on employees’ wages and taxes, office equipment, and employee benefits.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4Virtual Colleague, LLC handles assignments from small and medium-sized businesses. By working offsite and ONLY on special projects, Virtual Colleague, LLC saves time, space, and money for the employer, so the client can invest that extra money on growth, development, and diversification of products/services.

After years of working as an administrative professional, I knew it was time to broaden my experience and reach out to those businesses that require occasion, but not full-time assistance. Small businesses fail, because the start costs are so expensive. Coupled with state and federal mandates on wages, taxes, and benefits, employers are overwhelmed with debt and don’t have all of the resources to invest in their businesses.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

This is where Virtual Colleague, LLC is the perfect solution.

 As a virtual assistant, I meet with clients to discuss their needs, goals, problems, issues, and their companies’ vision. I chose the name “Virtual Colleague”, because I become an “invisible partner” in the client’s business. I share the same goals, so I work within that mindset. I also share the client’s problems and try to come up with positive, cost-effective solutions, so the client spends as little as possible, but gets a large return on his investment.

This is easier said than done, but I enjoy the challenge of helping businesses and I can relate to their feelings, emotions and disappointments. I’m a small business owner, too!

small business

What Is My Vision For Virtual Colleague, Llc?

I intended to broaden not only my client base, but also my offerings. I won’t fall into the trap of doing whatever clients want, but I am learning a new skill that will come in handy for many of my clients. I am in the process of completing an online course, so I will be proficient in it shortly. This new skill along with my existing skills will complement almost any small or medium-sized business.

This is why Virtual Colleague, LLC is the perfect choice for all of your writing needs and general administrative tasks.

 

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2015 Year in Review

3d-business-plan

At this time every year, I take time to review everything that happened in my business. I look at the good as well as the not so good. Why? This tells me where my successes have been and where I need to work harder to round out the areas that I don’t do well in.

LET’S START WITH THE SUCCESSES!

3 business people

I had three new clients this year that produced quite a bit of income for me. Each client allowed me to learn something new and to troubleshoot solutions to their problems.

3rd year

This is my third year in business and I’m still working hard to attract new clients and retain the ones I have now. My expenses were less this year, because I’ve already purchased all the marketing materials and software that I need to do the projects.

skills 2

I took my top three skills (research, writing, and creative thinking) and used them to expand my services. I love to write and you can’t write without doing some research. I love the creativity of finding new ways to write something or present a different point of view. I’ve done some copywriting and I felt that it was time to take it a step further. I enrolled in a copywriting course and I found that I knew quite a bit about doing it correctly, but I also learned some tips and tricks of the trade.

NETWORKING

business-people-shaking-hands

I’ve networked more this year that the past two years combined. I’m getting better at meeting and greeting people, so I’m stretching myself and seeking out places and events, where I can meet new people and tell them about my business. I still panic when I walk through the door, but once I’m in there, I start to relax and mingle and I think I’m getting the upper hand in this.

I may never fully conquer this fear, but at least, I’m working toward that goal. I’ve met some great people and learned a few things from them. I always eat something before I go to an event, because I don’t want to feel hungry or faint. That little burst of energy gets me started and by the time I am hungry, I’ve met some people and relaxed a bit. This is part of my 2016 business plan. I want to network more, but also, get more out of networking and I believe practice makes perfect. The more I do it, the better I will become.

NEVA

 It’s always a great idea to socialize with like-minded individuals. I’m so happy I joined NEVA (New England Virtual Assistants). They’re in the process of changing the name to NEVBO (New England Virtual Business Organization). This is an exceptional group of business professionals, who want to learn new ideas and trends, but also want to learn to succeed. The monthly conference calls feature guest speakers and the in-person quarterly meetings at restaurants around New England gives members the opportunity to network and exchange ideas and plan for future events.

I was skeptical about joining, because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know what to expect, but this group has so much to offer in the form of education, speakers, and possible job offers. It is a wise investment in my business!

MY BUSINESS PLAN FOR 2016

 So what does my business plan for 2016 look like?

  • I am pursuing copywriting, because I believe it is a perfect fit for me. I will take another copywriting course early next spring.
  • I plan to meet with someone from the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center. They offer free workshops and I can learn so much from them.
  • I also plan to contact someone at SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a national group that also serves Massachusetts and Connecticut. They offer mentoring and one-on-one meetings to help small business thrive.
  • Do more networking and try to enjoy doing it. Work on my elevator pitch, so the words will flow out of my mouth and attract everyone’s attention.
  • Get more involved with NEVA/NEVBO. Try to attend more of these events and attend more of the conference calls.

 

If I can accomplish most of this, I will have a great year. If I only accomplish some of these ideas, my business will still be better off than just hoping or waiting for something good to happen.

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WRITING AGES LIKE FINE WINE

So Many Topics, So Little Time

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

I’ve written over 140 blog posts since April 2013. In that time, I’ve covered various topics about my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, running a business, different aspects of a business, my fiction novel “Everyone Evelon” and many other topics.

Everyone Evelon Cover

In preparation for writing this post, I went to back to the first six months of my posts. Needless to say, my writing has greatly improved. I struggled as anyone does, when they start out doing something that they’ve never done before. Back then, I had a variety of topics, but my writing style was not that good.

Through reading other blogs and doing some research, I’ve honed my writing skills and produced better copy and deliver more information to my readers. It doesn’t matter what topic I write about, I’ve developed a better way of expressing my thoughts and opinions and the blogs are better for it.

I write two distinctive blogs. One is for my virtual assistant business and the other began as a blog for my author website, but is in transition. As a result of taking a copywriting course, I will be dividing my time between my virtual assistant projects and copywriting.

Perfection

Mom Always Said Practice Makes Perfect

 BloThis is so true! I see the results in my posts as I scan through my blog posts from beginning to end. I’m getting better all the time. I’m still struggling with SEO and keywords, but I’m headed in the right direction.

wine-cups-and-grape

Writing Does Age Like Fine Wine

 Wine starts out as grapes. These are the topics for blog posts. The grapes are squeezed, so only the juice is used. This is the research that comes from searching for pertinent information to include in the blog post. The juice goes through a fermenting process. This is where the blogger researches, writes, stops, researches again, continues to write and then leaves this copy for several days to let it “settle” before going back to it to find mistakes, inaccuracies, or any other problems.

When the wine is near perfection, then it is ready for public consumption. So too, with your blog post. After you have rewritten your copy several times and changed the word order or some words and checked punctuation and grammar, then it is ready be shared with the public.

This is the analogy I use, when thinking about my blogs. Every post I complete is shared worldwide, so it needs to be as perfect as possible. I admit, some posts are funnier than others are or contain more information than the others, but each one is the very best I can do at the time. I use the wine analogy to keep myself focused and produce the best posts I can.

 bottle-and-glasses-of-wine

Wine Is Sometimes Enjoyed In Intervals

 

I recently bought a bottle of wine for the holidays. I know I will not drink all of it at once. Instead, I will savor it over a period of time. Writing blog posts should be like that, too. Your readers should want to reread them or refer to them, if they need to. Your posts should make a lasting impression.

The next time you start to write something, whether it’s a thank you card, letter, description, or other piece of copy, remember the wine analogy and make whatever you write as clear and smooth as a fine wine.

 

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WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN?

Learn

The opportunity to learn new things is everywhere and yet, we sometimes have difficulty learning something new. Why does this happen? Did you know there are three ways to learn? Now I’m not talking about reading, hands-on, or visuals. I’m talking about the medium needed to learn. Let’s take them one at a time.

Internet

The Internet

Most of us use the internet. This is a great way to learn almost anything. There are free websites with step-by-step instructions or paid programs that walk you through the whole process and answer your questions. Some sites even suggest books to read, so you can become proficient at what you want to learn.

REading

Reading

Speaking of the internet, the internet uses the three forms of learning. Reading is key to learning anything on the internet. The internet is mostly comprised of words, with photos, and videos making up the balance.

If you’re a good reader, you can ingest volumes of information about anything just by reading. Some words are highlighted and linked to their definitions, so clicking on them will give you an immediate definition, but if you’re a visual learner, this is where the second form of learning comes into play.

 Videos

Visuals/Videos

The second form of learning is using visuals. Visuals can be photos, images, or videos demonstrating what you are trying to learn. This is a great way to learn how to decorate cakes, do arts and crafts, create holiday decorations, hairstyles, or anything you create by hand.

This form of learning is for people, who don’t like to read or have difficulty reading. Some people are just geared to learning this way and they can easily watch and learn at the same time and need very little outside help. They simply follow the visuals and achieve the same results. While this is a fast and easy way to learn, not everything we want to learn is available on video and a video or visual is very limited as to information. A visual gets you from start to finish, but isn’t capable of describing all of the details, tips, and tricks you should know. That kind of information is found in books or on the internet, where you have the space to read about certain subjects in depth.

Skills

Your Skills Solve Problems

The third kind of learning occurs when you don’t read or watch visuals, but use your intuitive skills to figure out how to do something. For example, suppose you want to re-create a certain hairstyle. You look at the photo, but there are no videos or written instructions to tell you how to do it. You simply use your skills to figure out which steps to take. This is usually the “trial-and-error” method, but it does bring results. Most people using this type of learning are truly “hands-on” in their approach to problems or issues. They get totally involved in the mental process of figuring out where to go or what to do to solve the problem. They don’t quit until they’ve figured out what to do and get the correct results.

Important

So Why Is This Important?

As virtual business owners, we have to be able to master all types of problems or issues. Things like software programs, hardware issues, telephone issues, and decisions about how to set up our offices and what furniture and tools we need. If you’re a reader, you can sit and read the solutions to most of your business problems. If you’re a visual/video learner, you can watch how to solve certain problems and replay as many times as necessary to get the end result.

If you simply don’t have patience to use the above methods, you can simply get into whatever your problem is by trial-and-error and fix it or make it better. This may take time, but your mental focus and memory will serve you well.

Path

Each Of These Methods Are Equal

There is no right or wrong way to learn or solve problems. The best way is the way that works for you. Sometimes you may use more than one method or you may stick to the way that works best for you. In any case. as a virtual business owner, you must find a way or ways to handle, manage, and maintain all of the tools needed to make your business profitable and grow.

 

What is the best way for you to learn new things?

 

Virtual Colleague LLC

 

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CHRISTMAS GIFTS AND PREPARATION

christmas Gifts

By now, I’m sure that most of us either have completed our holiday shopping or are at least half way through it. Of all the months in the year, I find that November and December are extremely busy, expensive, and time just flies.

ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT!

December Calendar

Around the end of October and beginning of November, I start making lists of things to do by certain dates. This is where organizational skills are very important. I always start my holiday shopping in November, but first, I have some research to do.

I always:

  • see if I can get some gift cards with my mileage points or credit card points
  • make a detailed list of what to get everyone including: size, color, style, and price
  • research which stores offer the best deals for the above mentioned
  • consider merchandise exchange policies
  • inquire if gift-wrapping is available
  • decide if waiting for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday will give me better deals

That takes care of gift buying. I only have to go out and pick up these things or order them online. This is one facet of the holiday rush.

PREPARE FOR SOCIAL EVENTS

Upcoming Events

I also have to make sure I prepare for all social events. Thank goodness, Thanksgiving is a food holiday! I just concentrate on cooking and socializing with family and friends. It is wonderful to sit back and catch up with everyone after a delicious meal.

There are so many other events to plan. There is:

  • the tree lighting on the green
  • school plays
  • finding time to decorate the house – both inside and out
  • baking the traditional Christmas cookies and then packaging them to send off to others

There’s also events at church and holiday parties with various organizations.

CLIENTS AND VIRTUAL OFFICE PARTIES

Office party

As a virtual assistant, owner of Virtual Colleague, LLC,  and copywriter, I don’t have an office party. I’m the only employee, but I do send a little something to my clients, especially those I’ve worked with this year. My clients are never forgotten and they all receive an ecard for the holidays, but I like to make my clients feel special, so I give them something extra. It may be a gift card or something small like a calendar or pen light, but I want to reward them for giving me projects through the year.

Then there’s the writing and mailing holiday cards and packages. While some people prefer a digital holiday card, most everyone on my list prefers a traditional card. This is more time consuming and expensive. I also feel I have to put a personal note inside every single card and   purchase holiday stickers, address labels, and postage stamps. All of this takes time to do!

Christmas Card

IS IT WORTH IT?

YES! I am busy throughout the year, so why shouldn’t I find and take the time to acknowledge the people in my life, who have worked with me, advised me, and assisted me to become the person I am. At no other time of the year is it more appropriate to show your kindness and gratitude to everyone – my clients included.

So while I may be stressed from lack of sleep, lack of money, and lack of time to do everything – the holidays are a wonderful time of the year and should be savored and enjoyed like fine wine! Taking the time to slow down and enjoy the atmosphere is one of the best presents you can give yourself.

How do you handle the holiday rush?

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Online Image is Everything

 You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy

 It is so true that we judge and are judged by our appearance. Not just by our physical features, but by our cleanliness, attire, and attitude. That’s why it is so important to create a brand that works for you. You must be true to yourself or else the brand you choose will betray you. For example, if I enjoy the outdoors, I can still dress to the “nine’s”, but that is not a true picture of what I like and enjoy. Jeans, boots, and a baseball cap would be a better representation of my true self.

young-woman-cycling

Branding can be a tricky business, because most of us want to be all things to all people, but in business that is simply not possible. We have to select a niche and stick with it. This makes us experts in this area and we can then impress our clients.

Niche

As I labor through my online copywriting course, the leaders in this field of writing are convinced that your business brand is extremely important. Why? Because as a copywriter, you cannot hide behind a team or group. YOU ARE the copywriter and are held accountable and responsible for all of the words on the page.

writer

If you’re a good writer and bring in money for the company, they will ask you back again and again. If you express mediocre talent and don’t show potential, your assignment will be a one-time event.

I think of “image” as the description of “you” without words. When I see you, I can guess what mood you’re in, if you’re tired or energetic, if you want to be in another place at this moment and many other things about you without either of us speaking a word. When I think in those terms, I realize how important my brand or image is to my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

I am in the process of transitioning from a variety of virtual assistant writing services to specializing in clients, who need copywriting. I will still be a virtual assistant, but copywriting is something that comes naturally to me and satisfies my creative juices.

I expected the copywriting course to cover the basics of copywriting and give a few specifics, but this course examines the whole spectrum of skills, business, and marketing strategies to become successful. It’s a lot more than I bargained for, but it is exactly what I needed.

The information I’m learning in this course can be applied to almost any business. In the course, the leaders talk about branding and its effects on the marketplace. They also talk about the art of selling and how to persuade clients and customers to buy something they don’t really need or want.

Selling

It’s not aggressive sales techniques or sales quota strategies. It’s just a step-by-step way to find what the student does best and encourages each of us to work on it and improve. I thought my brand was solid, but after reading a few chapters, I have revamped my image and changed a few things. I’m more aware of my social media presence and I look forward to posting something every day. This course is giving me a lift for my business and a personal challenge to do my best every day. I look forward to completing this course and learning so much from reading and doing the exercise.

 

It confirms the motto, “if you do something you like to do, it’s not work.”

  Do you have any questions or comments about copywriting?

 

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