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My daughter’s wedding was awesome

My daughter got married in November. I’ll probably post the video soon, like I did with my other daughter who got married two years ago. It’s so hard to believe that she’s married. Rebecca is my oldest daughter, and it feels like just yesterday that she was angry with me for being on the computer when she wanted my attention. It was so hard to get work done back then. Between caring for the kids, and doing the “stay at home mom” thing back then I barely had time to get actual paying work done. Yet, somehow I managed.

Even though I didn’t see my business as a business back then, I managed to keep succeeding. I do think I could have done better had I seen my VA business as more than a hobby. But, I didn’t. I saw it as a part time endeavor, a hobby, something I would do until I could find something “better”. Little did I know then how truly fortunate I was. As a work from home mom I could give my children a lot more attention than if I had worked outside the home, and I could rearrange my schedule around deadlines to do most of my work when they were sleeping, then in school, and before I knew it they were teenagers and they no longer cried when I said I had to get on the computer….

I remember setting an egg timer to explain to my daughter that I needed to work for this long, and when this alarm went off, if she was quiet and watched Mr. Rogers I could get done and then we would spend some time together. I would then set the timer during our time together too, so that I would be sure to get back to work. She got used to that eventually and it just became part of our life. Now, she’s married, and it’s just really hard to believe.

You all know how big of a year we’ve had here. I want you to know that while this blog has suffered, my business has not suffered. But, I think I need to get a timer out for my blog so I can spend some quality time with the blog getting it back to where it used to be, giving you useful advice and information. I’m not big on new years resolutions, but I’m here to say that I’m back, and you can expect regular blogs.

Also, I’m trying something new. I’ve brought on paid bloggers in the past to fill in the empty spaces, but now I’m bringing on guest bloggers to see how that goes. They will blog once a week or so, and hopefully they generate some new life and discussion. Now that my kids are out of the house and we basically have an empty nest, I think we need some younger blood around here.

If you are interested in blogging on a regular basis here, drop me a note and I’ll tell you all about it. Also, if you have not yet been featured on the podcast, fill out the form and if you don’t hear from me, send me an email and I’ll schedule and interview with you.

I’m getting ready to go to Monday Morning Breakthrough. I hope you’ll join me. It starts at 10:30 Eastern Time. It’s done by Kelly from Solo Masterminds and I just love it. It’s nice talking to other people about business and getting motivated on Monday Morning.

I have a busy week planned with the blog, updating some affiliate sites, and I’m writing another eBook.

What are your business plans for the week?

 

Finding your niche — Why it’s important to choose a Niche as a Virtual Assistant

So many Virtual Assistants balk at the idea of choosing a specialized niche. They think that if the choose something they’ll get less work. But, nothing could be further from the truth. If you specialize in something you’ll be so much more likely to fill your client roster faster. Why? Because, you’ll become and expert in that area. You will have more time to study it, get really good at it, and keep up to date on the changes in that area.

Over the years I have tried various niches as my skills grew or I got bored with something until I finally realize that my niche was content. Now I do everything to do with content from writing it (or hiring someone to write it) to editing it, formatting it, planning it, to posting it. I study how content affects search engine results. I study keywords and try to creatively incorporate them into the content that I write or edit. I enjoy pretty much every aspect of this niche, and I am very busy.

Right now, I am adding Kindle Publishing to my niche because that has to do with content too. It’s important to stay on top of the trends in your niche. If you’re spreading yourself too thin, it will be difficult to know what the trends are, and soon you will not be an expert in anything. Technology moves so fast, that if you don’t stay on top of something, before you know it, all your ideas are old hat and out of date. Since you can’t be an expert in everything, choose something to focus on in order to become an expert.

Also choosing a niche enables you to more easily market your services to your target audience. It makes it much easier to perfect your 30 second elevator speech if you have a niche. Imagine answering with confidence: “I develop, plan, perfect, and promote web content for online and offline businesses.”  Sounds a lot better than, “I am a Virtual Assistant.” Because we all know by now what the next question is: “What is that?” or lately, “Have you heard of Siri?” Yes, you’re still a VA, but having a defined job description for your business can only help you.

If you’ve not chosen a specific niche yet, why not? If you have, what is it and how did you choose. Share below!

Getting started as a Virtual Assistant

Getting started working from home as a remote virtual assistant (VA) can be an exciting and scary time for the new VA. But, if you really think about it, getting started in this business is no harder that getting started working as a secretary for a bricks and mortar business, it’s just different.

To gvirtual assistant et started as a Virtual Assistant you need:

  • Administrative or Secretarial Experience
  • A Niche
  • A Business License
  • A Business Banking Account (or PayPal)
  • A Virtual Assistant Website
  • Knowledge of Interactive Technology
  • Systems Developed to Help you Work Remotely
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • A Client Contract

Once you have these things in place, you simply market yourself as a virtual assistant both locally, and nationally. You can use sites like Shelancers.com or Guru.com, or Vanetworking.com to help find positions as a Virtual Assistant. You can also answer local ads that want a part time secretary that isn’t responsible for answering telephones.

Make sure you spread the word. You can also offer to do over flow work for other VAs but do not feel like you have to work free unless you feel like you are truly getting something out of it such as good training such as with an internship of some kind.

Just know that, if you have any secretarial skills at all, they can translate to working as a Virtual Assistant from home!

Creative Commons License photo credit: herlitz_pbs

How Add-on Services Can Increase Your Bottom Line

Add-on services are great. Every business uses them to eek a few extra dollars out of the sale. The window cleaners always offer to clean the screens before washing the windows. The lawn guys can trim the bushes and edge the lawn in addition to mowing the grass. Even your local coffee shop offers a selection of yummy pastries to go with that steaming cup of joe. Why not you? Why not add-on services for virtual assistants?

You do not have to stick with the standard services. Think outside the box. The more services you can offer, the more valuable you are to your client and to your own bank account. Plus, it adds variety and a little fun to your day. So, what can you do? Here’s a few suggestions that people are willing to pay for because either they don’t know how or don’t have time to do. Think of it as an untapped source of revenue for your VA services company.

  1. Facebook: Every business needs a FB page these days, whether they actually want one or not. You can offer your services to maintain that page with comments, links, status updates and interacting with their fans. You can also use your talents to customize that FB page with one of the many services out there. Be sure to save a link when you are done and add the new, snazzy FB page to your portfolio.
  2. YouTube: Another place where small businesses are overwhelmed is YouTube. They’ve heard of it. They know they should utilize its potential power. They just don’t know where to start. Position yourself as an expert. You don’t have to shoot the video clips, just upload them to YouTube and other, similar sites. You can also create a customized channel with amazing graphics and knock their socks off.
  3. You know what’s next. That’s right. Twitter. Once again, small business owners need one but don’t have the time or inclination to create and maintain a Twitter account. But, wait a minute. They have an amazing VA. She/he could do it… for a price. Offer to tweet, re-tweet and maintain for them. Even better, design a custom Twitter page. Everyone likes to look different and stand out from their competition.
  4. It’s not just social media, though. The possibilities for add-on services are limitless. I once worked for a powerful realtor (on staff, not VA) and saw her receipts crammed into an envelope in her briefcase. I started taking her monthly receipts, categorizing them and making a quickie, excel spreadsheet. I paperclippped each category of receipts together and threw everything in a manila envelope. She told me constantly how that 10 minute project was absolutely priceless to her. Just because the project seems overly simple to you does not mean someone isn’t willing to pay money for it.

So,what can you do? Put your thinking cap on. It can be VA-related. It can be completely unrelated but helpful to small business owners. Rack your brain. Write all your hidden talents on paper. There is some undiscovered nugget there that can make you some extra cash. Get digging.

10 Ways To Keep Your New Client Happy

You got the VA client; now what? How do you keep that client happy and coming back for more projects? Other than doing a good job (obviously), there are many things you can do to show them that you were the right gal (or guy) for the job.

  1. Turn work in on time. Heck, turn it in early. Everyone likes to turn on their computer in the morning and see an email that a project is completed. It’s a great way to start the day.
  2. Don’t make excuses. We touched on this a little bit here but it really is lame to come up with excuses when you are a grown up. The dog ate my homework line didn’t work in grade school and it certainly doesn’t work when you run a VA business.
  3. Over deliver. The current business catch phrase is, “meet and exceed your client’s expectations”. As cheesy as that phrase is, it’s true. Seriously. Blow them out of the water with how amazing you are.
  4. If you are personally familiar with their topic or field, don’t be afraid to speak up and make a suggestion. I once had a client marketing snow globes but he kept calling them water globes. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never called them that so I politely let him know, just for keyword purposes.
  5. Spell check.  Enough said.
  6. Be professional. A smiley here and there is fine but if you end every sentence with a smiley in emails to your client, you need to stop. The same goes for a cutsie siggy. Your letterhead and email signature lines should be professional and businesslike.
  7. Be respectful of their privacy. Just as with any boss or client, don’t talk about their work, their SEO methods, their internal systems or their techniques. Your client trusts you to keep this information private and, while they may not overhear you talking about them in person, you never know who is lurking on a forum.
  8. Speak up. If you don’t understand something, ask. Don’t be embarrassed. In fact, it may not even be you. Many times, with modern tech like email and Skype, things are “lost in translation”. Feel free to ask for clarification because, in the long run, you will save both yourself and the client time. And, time is money.
  9. Just like your parents taught you, honesty is the policy. If you screwed up, just admit it. As a 20 year business owner, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have been blatantly lied to by staff members. In fact, I knew they were lying but just couldn’t prove it. They never lasted long after that.
  10. If your client prefers a specific communication, use it. Really, it’s just a small courtesy. If they are Skype fiends and you don’t have it, get it. If they prefer Yahoo! Messenger, get on board. After all, they are paying you.

Now, get out there and wow that client with your VA know-how. Make them realize how lucky they were to have hired you!