Monthly Archives: September 2015

WHAT IS A NICHE AND HOW TO FIND IT?

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.

Niche

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?

strategy

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.

Salad

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.

copywriting

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

REPETITION IS THE MOTHER OF KNOWLEDGE

 

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.

Ideas

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.
gear-brain

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

 

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business

WHAT IS VALUE?

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.

value

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.

Balance

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Virtual Assistant Business