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.


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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?


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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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Coaching vs Mentoring


Most virtual assistants want or need coaching and/or mentoring, but what’s the difference between the two? The definitions are close in meaning, but in general, terms, a virtual assistant coach is a person giving another virtual assistant instruction. Most coaches have expertise in a specific area and want to relay that information to someone just starting out in the business. Mentoring implies, and again the definition is close to coaching, giving advice or suggestions.

Mentoring coaching

What this means is that if a virtual assistant is looking for someone who has experience as a virtual assistant, then she should look for a coach. If, on the other hand, the virtual assistant is comfortable with her business, but needs help in creating a business plan or help setting goals for her business, she would be better off using the skills of a mentor. In general, mentors encourage and guide you through your plans.

At last month’s meeting of the New England Virtual Assistants in Massachusetts, the speaker, Christine Bearse, was both a virtual assistant and a coach. She is also developing her speaking skills beyond coaching. As a speaker, she wants to speak about coaching – what it is, the benefits of coaching, and how she can help any individual. Her presentation was extremely interesting, because she touched on several key points that are common in most virtual assistants.

So many times virtual assistants feel they have to be all things to all people, but in reality, they also need help with certain decisions or maybe even direction. It’s difficult to ask for help, even if you know you desperately need it.  As a businesspeople, virtual assistants feel they have to handle everything themselves. They want more business, so they wear that persona. Most virtual assistants have training as administrative professionals and they handled many corporate and executive tasks including project management. When they own their own businesses, they feel they can do it all.

This is not necessarily true. Most virtual assistants specialize or have a niche, so their efforts are concentrated around certain tasks or projects. This doesn’t mean that they don’t know about many other software programs or systems, but they focus on certain aspects of the business. If the business grows too fast or the niche changes, then the virtual assistant has quite a bit of work to do to get back on track.

That’s where a coach or mentor come in handy. The coach or mentor will schedule some time to talk to the virtual assistant and find out what the problems are and then come up with some suggestions or advice. Again, depending on the issue, the virtual assistant would need either a coach or mentor.


So what do you look for in a coach or mentor? Look for someone who is familiar with your type of business. Also, look for someone, who is easy to talk to and is accessible. Just because they’re a coach or mentor doesn’t mean they’re the one for you. You should set up a free consultation phone call or meeting and find out how they can help you.

Many times virtual assistants, who are looking for advice, will just pick a coach or mentor off the internet or find someone in their local area. That’s not going to help them, if the coach/mentor doesn’t have the right experience to help them. Just as in every aspect of the virtual assistant business, the virtual assistant has to research and verify information to find a qualified coach or mentor.

Interlocking Hands

The hardest part after you realize you need help with your business is finding someone qualified to help you and then asking for his or her help.


Do you use a coach or mentor?




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Virtual Colleague LLC 4

Change is good for the soul. When I started my Virtual Assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. in early 2013, I wanted to conquer the world. I did not want to restrict myself to certain services, so I offered many services. Services like transcription, social media management, document preparation, etc. I wanted to come on strong and get my business up and running. I read that most virtual assistants have a niche and work within those parameters. I speak French, so I know what a “niche” is, but how do I find mine? A “niche” is a fancy word for “specialty”. Sometimes we know ourselves too well and don’t realize our strengths, but we all know our weaknesses.


I enjoy being flexible and performing a variety of tasks, whether it’s cooking, gardening, or writing; I enjoy the freedom to explore and learn something new.  That’s why it was so difficult for me to find my niche. I didn’t want to tie myself down to certain tasks or groups, but I knew I had to.

female executive

It didn’t take long to realize that I was a “Jill of all trades, mistress of none” meaning that although I can do many things, I really needed to specialize and stay focused. I had to do some soul-searching. One the one hand, I knew I loved to write. One the other hand, I enjoyed researching and learning new things. How could I marry these two loves?


I quietly honed down my services in my business over several months and focused more on writing projects and resume packages. The more I wrote, the more I loved it. I started researching what other virtual assistants were offering during this time. In my personal life, I always research everything before I buy anything. I check for quality, reviews, and pricing. When I do make the purchase, I am satisfied that I got a good deal. I then realized that I love to research. I will look up anything – an old classmate, a movie star from the 80’s, or travel destinations.


While meeting with a few friends for lunch, one of them suggested I learn to copy write. She told me that I have a great sense of humor, I can talk people into doing or buying things, I love to write, and I could make more money, if I focus on that part of my business. She advised me to learn more about it. I’ve done some copywriting, but not on the scale she was talking about. This idea intrigued me, so I researched it further. I decided to take an online course in copywriting, so I can learn from the masters and get a feel for this style of writing. I’m not quite half way through the course, but I’m really enjoying it. I find that I’ve been producing good copywriting, but this course offers so much more in the way of helpful tips and tricks, personal stories from successful copywriters, and samples of great copywriting work.


I’m grateful to my friend for suggesting this and I realize that this is a perfect fit for me. Not only do it get the opportunity to write, which is my passion, but also, I have to research new products and services for my clients and that makes the job fun, interesting, and informative. The fees are based on the copywriter’s experience, but if I really work hard, I can earn several times more than I’m earning now and not only get better at copywriting, but learn a lot about new products,  services, and what’s going on in the world.

Sometimes it only takes a few words from someone to point you in the right direction.

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RepetitionI wrote about this about a year ago, but I feel it is an important part of the learning process, so I’m writing about it again.  I recently started an online course. From time to time, I take online courses to keep myself sharp and learn new things, but this course is directly related to my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

The course I’m taking will make me a better writer, because it focuses on various aspects of the writing process and how to write effective copy. Having said this, I committed to this course and I’m going to see if through. There are five parts to this online course and I’ve finished Part 1. This course is a bit intense and sometimes tedious, but I need to press on to achieve better writing. Part 1 consisted of some reading – -easy reading – and then the repetition started. I had to read two sales letters ten times each and then copy each one three times.

Reading and Writing 2

Talk about tedious work and so much repetition! I started to question why I even signed up for this course. It was not what I was expecting, but after further reading, I realized that “rote” and “repetition” is the way I learned in school and almost mastered four foreign languages. It worked! I learned to sound out and spell my words. I learned to breakdown words into prefixes, root word, and suffixes to understand their meanings.

This course is like that. It starts with rote and repetition and then builds on other aspects of the writing business. It also presents commentary from other members of the group. This gives them the opportunity to express themselves and give tips and tricks on how to succeed to the newbies.


I honestly don’t understand how anyone can zip through this course, even if he or she is already a writer. There is so much to absorb and think about. On the surface, it looks like an easy course, but it requires hard work and dedication to get the most out of it.

I’m writing about this in this blog, because I feel this is one of the best ways to learn anything: repetition. While it’s not a glamorous way to learn something new, like playing games on the internet, it is a direct, concentrated way of making you focus on what is in front of you. Because you don’t know the end result, you have to learn every piece as it is presented to you, so the sum will equal all of its parts. Skipping to the middle or the end of the course leaves learning gaps that will get you later on as your career progresses, so taking time to learn the old-fashioned way is your best bet.

pie chart

How does this apply to my virtual assistant business? It’s so easy to look up how to do something online.  You simply follow the instruction and there you go. You can solve almost any Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, or any other software program problem in a few minutes. What most of us do not do is go back and practice, practice, practice, so we can learn this new skill and never have to look it up again.

Woman and Computer

This is one of the things I realize about this course. The repetition pays off. I can almost repeat verbatim the three sales letters I’ve read and copied. That’s what repetition does. As the wording became familiar to me, I started to notice an invisible outline of facts and information. I also noticed how some information was described in several places within the sales letters, but with different emphasis and words.

As I go through this course, it is a reminder of how easy it is to learn something new, if you learn it in the right way. Repetition and practice might be boring, but doing it creates an imprint in your brain and once you learn it, you may never forget it. It also allows your brain to think about what you’ve learned and how you can apply it to other tasks or projects.

Learning is fun, so why not make the most of it!


What are some of the ways that you learn new things?

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Value is defined by Dictionary.com as “relative worth, material worth, or estimated worth of money, material, services, etc.” This definition does not answer the question.


Ask anyone what “value” is and they will give you their version of what is important to them. In the virtual assistant world, value can be described in several ways.

  • Value is a job well done, completed before the deadline with no mistakes.
  • Value can be troubleshooting issues for your client, so if they occur, the virtual assistant is prepared to correct the inconsistencies.
  • Value can also mean the price of services. A virtual assistant might think she is worth a specific hourly fee, but the client may not be so sure. If the client thinks the fee is fair, the client considers the partnership good value.

How can a virtual assistant be sure that value is included in every project and with every client?

virtual assistant

Value is determined by the client, not the virtual assistant. The client sees how a virtual assistant works regarding meetings, assignments, questions, suggestions, etc. This can be seen as value. The virtual assistant is showing the client that the value is in the details and workings of the project.

Value is also in the fee for services. Clients know how much their employees are paid, so when a virtual assistant submits a fee for services, there might be sticker shock. Virtual assistants are usually paid by the hour or project, but employers are used to having their employees there for 35 – 40 hours. Employers might find a virtual assistant’s fee a bit exorbitant. This is where the virtual assistant has the opportunity to sell their skills, expertise, and educate the client on what they will do and how they can save the employer money and expenses.


So value is anytime someone sees they’re getting more for their money or more work performed. It’s up to the virtual assistant to make this happen. That’s why I schedule a meeting with my client, so we can get to know each other and the client’s needs.

I also assess the client’s management style and expectations. This is crucial, because personality plays in role in any working relationship. Management style is important, because this will determine how well you both work together. Being able to work with difficult people or people, who don’t share your work style, will ensure that you will attract and retain clients.

Value for me, as a virtual assistant, is being able to complete a project before the deadline. Doing this saves time to do other things. Value, in my opinion, is being able to complete a project by knowing some shortcuts and achieving all that the client wants. Saving time is like saving money. It allows me to market my business, network, write my blog posts, or do other things without diminishing my time for my client.

Most people look for value in the things they purchase. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

What does “VALUE” mean to you?

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I’m the type of person who loves a schedule. I feel in control, when I see my day planned out and know that I will get all or at least most of my tasks completed by the end of the day. This can sometimes lead me to overload myself. This is especially true during the summer.


I find that summer is a time for relaxing mentally, physically, and daily. When it’s too hot, I can’t seem to function well. I get lethargic, hot, irritable, and sometimes lazy. Although as a true New Englander, I love the change of seasons, summer can be stressful for me.

Hot sun

My schedule takes a hit on days, when the heat is over 90 degrees or when a friend comes by and says let’s go out for the day. It takes real discipline to be a virtual assistant. It takes a firm commitment to hold yourself to a schedule to get work done and find time to market/network your business.


I think my body just demands that I take is easier in the summer and not keep a schedule. I often resist relaxing or not following my schedule, because I feel it is a weakness not to just keep going. On the other hand, I usually feel much better and refreshed, when I do take a break from my schedule.


A perfect example of this was the NEVA picnic last July. I wanted to go, but I knew it was a whole day event. I had to travel over an hour to get there and then find the place. After I got there, I could feel myself relax and the girls were great company. I didn’t know any of them, so I didn’t know what to expect, but they were so friendly and welcoming to me and the others.

NEVA Kayaks

I actually needed to relax and get away from work and I didn’t even realize it. By going to the picnic, I had a chance to just sit there and breathe in the clean air. I just sat there, admired the view, and spent the afternoon with some wonderful people. I didn’t have to impress them or compete with them. We were all there to relax and have a good time.

Driving around

As I drove home, I realized that I felt much better than I had in a long time and vowed to take time to relax and become refreshed more often. I think I should schedule some time each month to get out, enjoy myself, and detox from my work and all the electronics. There goes my need to schedule things!

I guess summer is a time to relax and the autumn is a time to refresh. I am planning to take an online course in September. I can’t image doing it in the summer with the heat and all of the distractions, so I will spend the rest of August relaxing and then refresh my skills in September.

Girl Relaxing

Relaxing doesn’t come easy for me, so I will have to work on it. I like to read and I like to walk, but some people say walking is not relaxing; it is work. I don’t like to just sit there under a tree sipping lemonade, but that’s exactly what I should be doing. Maybe something stronger than lemonade would help me to relax?

I’ve also noticed that my workload slows down a bit during the summer, so maybe nature is trying to tell me to relax and refresh.

How do you relax?

To learn more about my business, click on Virtual Colleague, LLC.

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