Tag Archives: Virtual Colleague

Write it, Read it, Do it!

As part of the services I offer in my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, I create training manuals and instructional material. Now, this sounds easy to do. Right? All you have to do it just take it one step at a time and write down what you’re supposed to do. Whether it’s hit a specific button on a computer, pull on a lever, or speak in commands; this should be very simple to create. Not really!

Scrabble Guide

There is more to writing training manuals and instructional material than just writing down step-by-step tasks. Let’s take each project one at a time.

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An instructional manual can be a booklet, card, or video, sometimes written in different languages, that describes how to use a widget. The manual starts with how to unpack the widget and tells the user how to get it ready for use, if that needs to be done. The manual also gives step-by-step instructions on how to use the widget with many caution and safety comments interspersed between the steps. It also lists do’s and don’ts and gives advice on how to care for the widget, warranty information, where to find replacement parts, where to take it for service and other information.

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Examples of manuals are how to operate a lawn mower, how to connect your television to your computer, and many other things. Pinterest is a mini-instructional guide to how to do things including shortcuts.

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A training manual is very different. The purpose of a training manual is to describe to the user how to actually use it to do the work. For example, if you want to create an excel spreadsheet and you’ve never used excel before, you can find instructions online that describe each step and click to create a spreadsheet. Training manuals teach without bringing in all the safety and cautionary advice. It is a clear-cut systematic description of what to do and how to do it.

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There may be times when the user has a choice about certain options. For example, in the spreadsheet, the creator may want to change the font. This action is described, but the user is told that the change can be made at any time. It is at the discretion of the creator. Training manuals are geared to quickly learning how to do something without distracting details. It is clear, simple, concise steps to achieve the end result. Examples of training manuals are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), logging in to a specific software program, creating a blog with WordPress or BlogSpot.

What starts out as something simple can turn into a complex project in minutes. I always start with an outline and then write up one section at a time. Then I condense or expand each section according to difficulty or available options. Formatting and visual presentation is not so important, because my client usually has a specific font, size, and format in mind for the project.

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As always, I try to offer my client more options, so they can choose what is right for them, whether it’s formatting, word choice, photos, and graphics; I always try to present the project from different perspectives.

The take-away is this: always hire professional writers to do your work. It may seem simple to you, but a professional writer will have an in-depth look at the project and may suggest other topics to cover. Your project will be written in a clear, easy-to-read style and contain all of the information needed, because the writer looks at your project with a new set of eyes.

To find out more about what Virtual Colleague, LLC can do for your business, click here.

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CREATING BLOG POSTS

What is a blog post?

A blog, a mixed word version of weblog, is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of entries (posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first). A blog is also described as a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be.

Why is blogging important?

According to BlogBasics, “…the answer lies in the fact that every human has a voice and wishes their voice to be heard. The Internet is a medium that is unparalleled in its reach. Never before have average people been able to reach a global audience with so little trouble. Bloggers have the opportunity of reaching hundreds or even thousands of people each and every day.

There are still many people who like to share the details of their days. On the other hand, there are bloggers who give almost no detail about their lives, but write instead about a hobby or interest of theirs. They may dedicate their blog to something they are passionate about.

In fact, today’s blogs can provide hair tips, up-to-date news, technical information, celebrity scandal, political rumor, gets people involved in volunteering, advice on investments as well as there being blogs on cooking, health, gardening, sport, blogging blogs (this blog) and of course many personal blogs and quite a few strange blogs.

What is business blogging?

According to HubSpot:

1) It helps drive traffic to your website.

2) It helps convert that traffic into leads.

3) It helps establish authority.

4) It drives long-term results.

 

Did you know that 25% of all blogs are on WordPress?

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Virtual Colleague, LLC handles all blog topics. I discuss the topic with my client and find the uniqueness that my client has to offer. Then I research the web and other materials to compare and contrast my client’s product or service with the competition. At that point, I am able to write a compelling blog post that emphasizes the qualities, strengths and uniqueness of the product or service and my client’s business. I sometimes use graphs, charts, or images within the post to create a visual image of what the post is trying to convey.

Blogging enhances websites and calls attention to whatever the business wants to highlight. Put a certified writer to work for you. Contact Virtual Colleague LLC today to find how I can help you grow your business.

Toll Free #: 401-384-0257

Local #: 401-595-0087

Email: JPlante@VirtualColleagueLLC.com

 

 

 

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Networking Through Press Releases

What is a press release?

headline

 A press release, also known as a news release, is a few brief statements that outline the major facts of a news story in journalistic style. It is also an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter, such as a new product or service, a company sponsored event or employee promotions.

Social Media

With the explosion of social media, the press release is now considered a form of networking. Instead of creating a brochure, white paper, or advertising campaign, the press release provides the perfect opportunity to broadcast news, new products or services, personnel changes, company expansion, and a host of other newsworthy topics. Rather than going through the local newspapers, social media broadcasts the press releases in many forms and at lightning speed, so businesses can keep everyone up to date on changes within the business and any brand changes.

People Networking

Why is this considered networking?

Networking comes in many forms. Almost any type of marketing involves networking. You may think of networking as a business event “after hours”, but networking is any time information is exchanged between the company and potential customers or clients. Networking is meant to create a bond between the product/service/company and potential customers/clients, so anytime someone is interested in your company’s news, product, or information that is a form of networking.

Successful networking involves person-to-person contact as in a meeting, phone call, or event. Press releases used to appear only periodically and only for important events within a company. Now that social media has created an ongoing platform for all kinds of information, the press release is easily used to relate information as often as needed.

Can press releases really take the place of networking?

A true press release is more formal than a quick bite of text in social media and it is usually a page long and can contain photos, charts, or graphs. Pieces of the press release can be inserted into social media, so within a short period of time, the entire message or news is out on social media. Broken into small bites, it is sometimes easier for readers to understand. They can digest small snapshots of information, which makes them eager to read the rest of the announcement.

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Virtual Colleague, LLC can get the results you need!

Press releases are easy enough to write up. After all, it relays information. You need someone, who knows how to write and get the message across briefly and succinctly, while creating interest in the announcement.

As a virtual assistant of Virtual Colleague, LLC, I can write press releases that not only convey the message, but also create the desire to know more about your product or service. Contact me today at 401-595-0087 for a free consultation. We will discuss your announcement and how I can relay more than just information to help your business grow.

 

Click here to link to my website for more information about Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Click on my Facebook page for more info about what I can do for your business.

Join me on Twitter.

 

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VIRTUAL COLLEAGUE LLC MISSION STATEMENT AND VISION

Mission

A mission statement, according to BusinessDirectory.com, is “A written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.

Vision

A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment.”

Virtual Colleague, LLC, a woman-owned virtual business, is a virtual business specializing in writing projects and general administrative tasks. This business works on individual projects or tasks rather than on a permanent, full-time basis. This saves the clients’ money on employees’ wages and taxes, office equipment, and employee benefits.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4Virtual Colleague, LLC handles assignments from small and medium-sized businesses. By working offsite and ONLY on special projects, Virtual Colleague, LLC saves time, space, and money for the employer, so the client can invest that extra money on growth, development, and diversification of products/services.

After years of working as an administrative professional, I knew it was time to broaden my experience and reach out to those businesses that require occasion, but not full-time assistance. Small businesses fail, because the start costs are so expensive. Coupled with state and federal mandates on wages, taxes, and benefits, employers are overwhelmed with debt and don’t have all of the resources to invest in their businesses.

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This is where Virtual Colleague, LLC is the perfect solution.

 As a virtual assistant, I meet with clients to discuss their needs, goals, problems, issues, and their companies’ vision. I chose the name “Virtual Colleague”, because I become an “invisible partner” in the client’s business. I share the same goals, so I work within that mindset. I also share the client’s problems and try to come up with positive, cost-effective solutions, so the client spends as little as possible, but gets a large return on his investment.

This is easier said than done, but I enjoy the challenge of helping businesses and I can relate to their feelings, emotions and disappointments. I’m a small business owner, too!

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What Is My Vision For Virtual Colleague, Llc?

I intended to broaden not only my client base, but also my offerings. I won’t fall into the trap of doing whatever clients want, but I am learning a new skill that will come in handy for many of my clients. I am in the process of completing an online course, so I will be proficient in it shortly. This new skill along with my existing skills will complement almost any small or medium-sized business.

This is why Virtual Colleague, LLC is the perfect choice for all of your writing needs and general administrative tasks.

 

Click here to link to my website for more information about Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Click on my Facebook page for more info about what I can do for your business.

Join me on Twitter.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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RELAX TO REFRESH

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.

Schedule

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.

Discipline

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.

Refreshed

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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Are Branding Colors Important?

Virtual Colleague LLC 4When I started my business, I didn’t know anything about color and its significance. Colors have always been an important part of my life, because I’m partially colorblind. This means that I don’t see certain shades of color and I have difficult reading a sign that contains certain colors. It also means that I can never get certified in public transportation, manufacture any kind of chemicals, work as an interior decoration or indeed, work in a party store filling multicolored balloon orders. I used to argue with people about the color of an object, but now I just let them say whatever they think. I KNOW what I SEE!

color wheel

I have certain tricks to determine what a color might be. For example, if I pick up a pair of pants, I move the material and if the light catches it, it is navy blue. Black will never reflect light. In my closet, I have my shoes in boxes and they’re clearly marked: black pumps, navy pumps with bows, etc. I never buy paisley or light colored clothes. I can never tell if a blouse is tan, light pink, ecru, etc. I stick with solid colors and I can’t go wrong.

As I started to create my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, I realized that I needed to choose a few colors as part of my brand. The first thing I did was research everything I could find about color and their meanings. Some of the statements I believed and some I didn’t.

First I had to decide the tone of my business and try to imagine what the website would look like in certain colors. I wanted something professional-looking, but still I wanted it to have a woman’s touch. I finally decided on brown, gold, and white.

I created all of my marketing materials with these colors and I was satisfied with the way everything seemed to fit together. I started my business and many people commented on how well my website looked. Then I ran into trouble. The website company I chose to do my website changed some of the themes and I had to choose another theme.

This really messed me up, because I couldn’t find another theme I thought was appropriate and the colors didn’t appear the same in this new theme. I think the new theme looks plain and dull compared to the one I had before, but I really can’t tell about the color scheme. What looks good to me usually looks bad to everyone else. I am currently trying to tweak the theme and the colors.

If you think this is tough, you should see me try to choose nail polish color! I never change shades of makeup without getting a second opinion. Color is important in my personal life and in my business.

As I mentioned, I’m not happy about the current look of my website, but I obtained several new clients since I changed it, so I don’t know if it’s the website or my hard work at networking that brought them to me. When I asked them, they had no comment about the website and told me they were impressed with my credentials and references via word of mouth.

I know from personal experience that color does matter and colors speak volumes. I am actually thinking of changing my branding colors. Brown, gold, and white may not be strong enough to attract potential clients’ attention, so I will have to go back to my research and see which colors are appropriate to a virtual assistant business.

Which colors do you like and why?

Check out my website at Virtual Colleague LLC

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