Tag Archives: Challenge

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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Honesty Is the Best Policy

I recently had a client that wanted me to do a few “simple” projects. This is how he described his projects – simple. He was partially correct.

The first few projects were documents that either required research, product descriptions or how-to explanations, but the last project on the list was a real challenge for me.

He wanted me to create some kind of infographic. I don’t possess any of the software tools needed to do that kind of work, so I did some research. I finally decided to use Canva, because it’s free and easy to use.

Infographic

I have to stop here and tell you that the client didn’t exactly know what he wanted, but he gave me a brief description. I worked diligently on several images for the infographic. He was very vague, so I used my creativity to come up with different images and styles.

I sent them to him, so he could get back to me and I would correct or tweak anything he didn’t want. I want to add that this project was supposed to have a fast approaching deadline. He waited 2 days to get back to me and rejected all of my samples. I was a little upset with him, because we had worked so well on the previous projects. I listed a series of questions in my email to him about what EXACTLY he wanted me to do.

Clarity of Ideas

Usually my clients have a clear picture in their minds about what they want and how they want it to look. They just don’t know how to get it to look the way they want it to. That’s where I come in. As a virtual assistant, I find a way to make their projects come to live and make them successful.

He was very vague with his answers, so based on what little information he gave me, I started in again to design some samples of work for him. I got the feeling that either he really didn’t know what he wanted or he wanted me to copy someone else’s work and wasn’t sure if I would do that.

I would never just copy someone else’s work. I might use it as a base for my work, but I would never copy something and then just change the labels. A few days went by, I emailed the samples to him and again I got the same reply. Only this time, he was irate, because I was supposed to be a virtual assistant and I should know what he wanted. He told me that in the email.

After I got that email reply, I calmed myself and phoned him. He answered and I asked if it was a good time to talk. He said yes, so I continued. I explained to him what a virtual assistant is and what they can do to help business owners.

I then explained what they can’t do. Mindreading is one of them. I then went over with a polite, but firm voice, the emails he sent me and the samples I sent him. I wanted him to know that I was trying to accomplish the goal, but he was not specific enough. I didn’t want to alienate him, but I did want to emphasize my point.

Virtual Colleague LLC copy

In my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, I partner with clients, who become colleagues. That’s my slogan, so what the client wants/needs becomes what I want/need. The client’s goals are my goals.

He listened patiently, but then said that he was trying something new and wasn’t sure how to use an infographic and how effective it would be. He thought I could just “whip something up” and it would be done.

I reminded him that I had created several samples, but without his input of percentages, totals, and estimates, the infographic falls flat and doesn’t convey any message.

He let out a long sigh and I realized that I could not continue to work with him on this project. The other projects were very successful, but I simply could not work with him under these conditions and take the blame for things beyond my control.

There was silence on the phone and I wanted to take the lead on this. I told him that maybe he should shelve this project until he had time to think it through. I assured him that no business person should blindly do something, because other businesses were doing it. It just doesn’t make good business sense.

He agreed with me and I told him that because he had already paid for my time, he could use the time for another project. He thanked me and agreed that that would be the right thing to do.

One of the most difficult things to do is to tell a client you can’t help them. This was the first time I ever had to do that, but it was the right thing to do. I usually find a way to do the projects, but I would rather give up a project than do it and alienate my client and others that hear about his dissatisfaction with me.

Have you ever had to refuse work from a client?

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Create a Balance between Reading and Doing

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Since my e-book launch and the fact that it is summer and virtual assistant work is slow, I’ve tried to catch up on some of my reading. I don’t mean reading those summer novels.

I’m referring to informational reading from groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and other sites. I like to keep current in everything I do, so I tend to read up on things, so when they happen, I am prepared. My clients appreciate this as well. It lends credibility to my business, when I can contribute to my clients’ concerns about something new or something misunderstood.

Balancing Free

I had to develop a way to keep track of the “interesting news” and not just all the news. I created a Word document much like a book. I have a Table of Contents with the page numbers of each article I copied and pasted.

As I read through all of the articles on the web, I can copy and paste them into this word document. By glancing at the table of contents, I can easily navigate to the page I want to start reading. I used to save each article separately, but then I had too many articles and they weren’t always easy to find. I like the main documents approach and it’s a time saver.

Harvest Tracks Free

Sitting there reading through all of these articles can be hard on the eyes. I take frequent breaks and walk around a bit to relieve some of the stiffness in my joints. That helps, but I know I have so many to read through.

I decided to put myself on a schedule and put time aside each week and just sit there and read through them and save the ones I think I will need. I always say I will do this, but never actually do it. I get distracted and end up not doing it. This has to change.

Now that I’m an author, I really need to focus on tightening my work schedule to include not only what needs to be done, but to schedule time to take care of the overload or unexpected distractions that eat into my work time.

Lemonade Pitcher Free

It’s so tempting to go outside on a warm, sunny day and relax with a glass of lemonade. I love the outdoors, so it is particularly difficult to stay indoors and work. Client work is different, but having to sit inside just to clear out my inbox or organize my files, is a different story.

I’m testing a new schedule. I get up at 6 every morning, so I am working by 8 a.m. I work until 12 noon and then take a break for lunch. After lunch, I try to finish anything not completed before lunch unless it’s an ongoing project. I try to save my errands for the afternoon. I am a morning person and try to get my most difficult tasks finish by noontime. In the afternoon, I feel more like moving around, because I’ve been at my desk all morning, so that’s why I save my errands for the afternoon, if possible.

This is working out well. My biggest challenge is social media. Yes, you heard me, social media. I get so caught up with it that I waste time, especially Facebook. I need to work more efficiently on this, but I’m not a wiz at social media, so it takes me time to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I have just started using Twitter for my e-book marketing and it’s a challenge to fit my message in in only 140 characters and let’s not talk about those hashtags. I still don’t have the knack of using them, but I’m learning.

Balance is the key to learning and doing and getting it all done.

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Web Research: a Thirst Quencher

Several of my relatives have made a lifelong commitment to finding out all they can about their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, they cannot contain that information to themselves and instead spread the details or stories to anyone that will listen.

Gossipers

I’ve always wondered why some people do that, even though: 1) it’s none of their business and 2) they could have the facts wrong and ruin someone’s reputation. My theory is that they have an unquenchable thirst for information. They feel compelled to find out everything they can about everything and everyone around them.

Unquenchable thirst That is the exact opposite of web research. I offer web research as part of my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, because every business needs to stay current with information about products, services or new innovation.  The most common reason to do web research is to find out what the competition is doing. Businesses need to be upfront about the products and services they offer, any special deals or discounts that’s out on the web. This provides a challenge to them to find ways to stay competitive.

Competition Web research is also used to explore new possibilities. It provides current statistics on trends, important issues, and declining interests. Scanning the web for pertinent information can provide direction to a company, so they can decide to diversify by offering new products or services or to phase out products or services that are becoming outdated or obsolete.

I enjoy web researching, because as the researcher, I learn about new items and ideas and get a fresh perspective on things that I just took for granted. As a virtual assistant, I always get a clear picture of what my clients need and why they need it.

As a web researcher, I can pull up all kinds of information, but is it relevant to the needs of my clients?  That’s why having a meeting to discuss what the purpose and focus of the research is all about saves time, money and enables me to quickly discard information that’s not needed.

     Vacation Resort

    Convention Center

New Car

Whether I’m researching a vacation resort or convention sites or just researching to find the best vehicle for the company fleet, it is important to outline what to look for and why the search is so important. I usually create an Excel spreadsheet or maybe even a PowerPoint presentation to display my results in a way that is clear, concise and easy to follow.

The end result is a detailed list (spreadsheet) of each item I have researched and broken down each piece of information into categories, so my client can make an informed decision. I may also take any financial information and make a chart or table that provides a visual of the information I have collected.

In the case of researching a place or product, I may create a PowerPoint presentation with a page for each item or place I have researched. I try to provide pictures or photos and list the Pros and Cons on each page. This may seem unnecessary, but I’ve found that after reading reports for most of the day, my clients prefer visuals, so they can look at the whole picture rather than just concentrate on the numbers.

A web researcher must be vigilant and discerning. Everything on the internet is not true or substantiated and that’s why web research is a lot like trying to find your ancestors. You must find matching information that verifies the original information that you found, so you can count it as true. It’s not enough to just look things up on the internet and take them at face value.

Just as my relatives have earned bad reputations as gossipers and busybodies, so to for any web researcher that wants to keep clients, the information has to be true and correct.

 

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