Tag Archives: Offerings

WHAT IS A NICHE AND HOW TO FIND IT?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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WEED, SEED, AND FEED

This sounds like a gardening commercial, but in reality, this is what you should be doing if you work as a virtual assistant. As owner of Virtual Colleague, LLC, I try to stay current with new technology.

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I’ve been working in my yard to get it ready for summer. I live in New England and the weather can be tricky. If we have hot weather in May, everything starts to grow including the weeds. If we have a lot of rain and then it turns hot, there are all kinds of green vegetation growing everywhere.

As I was weeding some of my flowerbeds, I realized that in order to grow new plants, I had to make room for them. As I was working to clear the debris, I started to analyze which plants had started to grow and which ones would not return. I thought about what I would put in the empty spaces. Do I want flowers, ferns, or foliage plants?

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I systematically worked on each garden bed until they were all weeded. Then I had to do some research to determine which plants do well in the sun or shade and how tall they would grow. It took a few days to gather this information and lay out what I wanted to do. I decided that starting the plants from seed would be a waste of time as the summer season is upon us.

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I decided to buy starter plants and simply put them into the ground at strategic locations. This would not only make the gardens look different, but would add a splash of color and definition to those areas.  After I finished planting, the gardens looked totally different from last year and I had a mix of perennials and annuals. Perennials come up every year, but annuals appear only one time.

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After sitting back and admiring my work, I had to develop a schedule for watering and caring for all of these plants. With a little more research, I created a spreadsheet with all of the pertinent information about each type of plant and then pinned it to the back of the door of my gardening shed. My “Weed, Seed, and Feed” was finished. All I have to do is stick to my schedule.

I thought about my virtual assistant business. I’ve offered the same services for quite a while. Maybe it’s time to “’weed, seed, and feed” my business. I looked at my list of services and decided that some of them will not appearance on my services list. I will still offer them, but I will not promote them.

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Instead, I need to sow some new seeds in my business. This means doing some research and finding out what services are in demand. There are some skills I am not capable of doing, but I’m sure that if I look at my existing skills, I can find some other services that I can offer to diversify my offerings. These are the “seeds” that I must plant in my business from time to time.

I did find a few other services I can offer and I know with a little practice, I will be as strong in them as I am with my current offerings. This is “feeding” my business. I will admit, I’ve become complacent with my services and that needs to change. By “feeding” my business on a regular basis, I will be able to adjust my services and skills to acquire and accommodate new clients.

Just as the new plants look fantastic in my gardens, my business will be refreshed and attract new clients. Never be afraid to change things up for the better!

Do you change your services from time to time?

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REAPING THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR

At the beginning of this month, we celebrated Labor Day. While it’s not only a “day of rest” for most workers, it is a time to reflect on our jobs and career goals. Everyone enjoys a day off to pursue our other interests, but what about recognition of our accomplishments?

As a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC,  I have the ability to perform a variety of tasks for my clients. From simple tasks to project management, I love the variety and learning this job brings to me. Every now and then, I sit back and review what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve had to learn. Working with clients puts me in the driver’s seat to get the projects completed, but…I have to know how to run the car. What I mean by that is that I need to know WHAT TO DO and HOW TO DO IT, but if I don’t, I also have to LEARN IT FAST!!

Every client is different and every client is unique, so finding a one-size-fits-all is not possible, if I want to truly service my clients’ needs. For example, I may perform only one specific task for a client, but perform 3 or 4 different ones for other clients.

So I excel at the things I’m good at, explore some other tasks that I’m vaguely familiar with, and then learn some totally new software programs. Taking time to periodically see where I am and where I’ve been is in fact REAPING THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR. I realize what I have accomplished and that gives me more to offer my present or future clients.

Every learning opportunity is a chance to increase my offerings. How many ice cream shops do you know that only offer 3 flavors? They usually offer at least 20 different flavors and some will mix them for you. This idea works the same way for virtual assistants. While you may want to specialize in certain areas of your expertise, you always need to keep the door open for business by learning new skills as they present themselves.

I recently met with a client that has suddenly acquired a new line of work in addition to what he already does. Due to my proven ability to get the job done on time and within his budget, he wants me to undertake this new venture with him. This is an area that neither of us have a great deal of expertise in, but my enthusiasm and can-do attitude will get me through it. It will require my full attention and excellent communication to make sure we are both in sync with the project.  I had continued to learn new software or new ways of doing tasks and when we (my client and I) start this new project, I will definitely REAP THE FRUITS OF MY LABOR!

Do you take time to review what you’ve accomplished or completed? Tell me about it in the comment section.

 

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