Tag Archives: niche

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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Coaching vs Mentoring

coachingMentoring

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.

Detective

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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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.

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Everyone Wants a Piece of the Action

Lately, I’ve been bombarded by administrative professionals, who want to work for me as a virtual assistant. While I’m flattered that they contacted me and offered their skills, I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the fact that they don’t understand the first thing about the virtual assistant business.

Some of them are downright demanding and don’t understand why I don’t want to share any of my work with them. They forward their resumes to me and I’m expected to just dole out my clients’ work to them.

Global Mouse Connections

It’s not that simple, so here are a few tips to help anyone land placement with a virtual assistant.

  • Take time to check out the virtual assistant you want to work with. Get to know the virtual assistant’s niche and determine how you can assist with your skills.
  • Take time to introduce yourself and focus on your personal skills as well as your professional ones. You need to convince the virtual assistant that you’re a perfect fit for her business.
  • Do your research! Find out what the virtual assistant business is all about: how you find clients, how to bill for services, what’s in a contract, etc. This will help you to bond with the virtual assistant and enhance your chances of getting work.
  • Be flexible! Answer any questions the virtual assistant may have and elaborate on anything she talks about. The more you have in common (personality, professionalism, knowledge of the business, etc.) the better your chances are to secure placement with her.

 

If the virtual assistant isn’t forthcoming with an offer:

  • Don’t ask her why she doesn’t have enough work for both of you.
  • Don’t discuss your salary requirements for future work. Every client and project is different.
  • Don’t imply that you have more or better skills than the virtual assistant has and that’s why you should work with her.

If the virtual assistant asks you, if you need a mentor, take the offer. The best way to break into the business is to connect with someone, who has gone through the process and can help you avoid the pitfalls. By connecting and getting to know you, the virtual assistant would be more willing to hand work over to you. Don’t forget, the virtual assistant has a professional relationship with her client and most virtual assistants are extremely reluctant to hand over any work to someone they know little about.

2 Virtual Assistants

Bottom line:

Times are tough! For most virtual assistants, their clients are their only means of financial support, so they need to nurture them and provide the best service, so they can retain their clients. Sometimes, a client may require skills that their virtual assistant doesn’t possess. That’s when the virtual assistant will reach out to the community. If you’ve positioned yourself with knowledge, skills, and connections, and understand how the virtual assistant business works, then some virtual work should come your way.

Approach any virtual assistant in the same way you would approach a potential employer.

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Finding My Niche (in the Woods)

I’ve just spent 5 days in Sandwich on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I went camping to get away from my neighbors and problems and to re-think the way I am living my life.  Not that I’m doing anything wrong, but it seems like I’m on a carousel with no stop button. I have things to do and then there’s all the interruptions that prolong the tasks and I get behind in doing the things I have to do.

I needed to get away from my daily routine and take a long hard look at it. There’s nothing better than getting away from all the electronics to give you the time to think and the quiet to be able to listen to your inner voice.

As a virtual assistant, every day is unpredictable. Each day I have work to do: marketing my business, writing my blog, reading all the emails I get from all the online groups I subscribe to, keeping up with my online course, client work and other duties that just seem to crop up.

I was really getting behind in my work and couldn’t seem to focus on the things I HAD to do. I needed time to reset my inner clock and determine what my priorities are and how to accomplish them. That sea air really cleared my head and the lack of interruptions helped me to just relax and let my mind wander. Notice, I said, let my mind wander, not worry, about things.

I determined that I’m trying to do too many things. I think I’m doing this to appeal to as many people (clients) as possible, but I now know that that’s a mistake. I’m so worried about being all things to all people (clients) that sometimes, I’m not enjoying my business and that’s not a good sign.

Just as I had to focus on one task at a time, when I was camping – getting the water, starting the camp stove, heating the water, washing the dishes, drying the dishes, putting them away and then refilling the water jug – so too, I need to pare down my business offerings and focus more on finding my ideal clients.

I can always offer to do more for my clients, if they need additional services, but for right now, I think I need to refocus and offer my clients only 2 or 3 services. Those services will be my niche or specialization.

The problem is, I enjoy variety and learning new things, so the idea of only offering 3 services is not something that I look forward to, but it is something that will help my business to grow in the long run. It will make my business more identifiable to prospective clients and will enable me to subcontract or partner with other virtual assistants to provide more support to clients.

Sitting under those Cape Cod pine trees made me realize that those trees only function in a few ways, i.e. provide shade, home for the birds, drop pine cones to produce the next generation of trees and serve campers with a place to hang their clotheslines and tarpaulins. Those trees only function in a few ways, yet they make up a beautiful state forest.

I know there are tests to determine what you’re really good at doing, so I was trying to figure out which services I should choose. The renegade in me says “do it all”, but the voice inside of me says “do a few things very well and become an expert”.

As I sat under those pine trees, I realized that I hadn’t written anything in my travel journal. I keep a travel journal and document my trips or special day trips. It helps me to remember the good times and to appreciate those trips I took.

Suddenly, it came to me. Writing is my favorite thing to do. I have been writing all my life. I started as a young girl, leaving messages in my Dad’s lunch box. He used to work in another state and had to leave home very early every morning. I used to leave him little notes even poems.

When I got a little older, I used to keep a diary. I never had anything great to say in the diary, but I liked the idea of keeping track of what I did each day.  As a “tweenager”, I got some pen pals and I wrote to them on a regular basis. I still write to my very first pen pal from New Zealand. We’ve been through her marriage, the birth of her children, her divorce and many other events.

In college, I studied foreign languages, so I did a lot of reading and writing term papers and other projects. I became a certified freelance writer in 2009 and one of my articles was published in the local newspaper.

In my work experience, I worked as a Correspondence and Appeals Specialist, where I wrote letters of explanation to customers as to why the health insurance company wouldn’t pay for the services rendered. Later on, I worked as a Quality Software Analyst, which means I wrote test scripts for software programs under development. I took the minutes of every meeting, when I worked in banking.

As a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, I wrote articles highlighting IAAP events that were published on the association website and the chamber of commerce website. I have been creating resumes for friends and co-workers for years.

Getting away and having quiet time helped me to determine what my niche is and now I need to adjust my mindset and marketing to reflect these changes. I will still be open to new opportunities and possibilities, but I must change my main focus. I know this will allow me to strengthen my selected skills and work more efficiently without stress.

Life is full of twist and turns and this is one more turn in the road.

 

 

 

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