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Weekend Links

Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 in Blogging, Featured | 0 comments

Weekend Links

be a better blogger

I came across a few blog posts in my work today that I thought were worth sharing.

What good posts have you read this week?

Making Money as a Virtual Assistant

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Business | 0 comments

So you want to make real money working from home, right? virtual assistant

There’s a big leap between wanting to make money from home and actually doing it. You need readers or advertisers or clients or customers. You need a plan.

One of the myriad of ways you can do well in the online space is as a virtual assistant or VA. It’s a job that plays into our collective skills as bloggers.

I have a VA, Lisa Morosky. I love her. I recommend her. If you need a VA, you should hire her.

Because she’s awesome.

Lisa built a home business into an enterprise with employees. Then Lisa scaled back her business to spend more time living her life. She’s done it all, and she’s kept her focus on what’s most important – her family.

That’s why I do this. I want to help you make money while keeping your focus on what’s important.

If you want to build a business, you should read Lisa’s book, The Bootstrap VA.

The Bootstrap VA is great for anyone who wants to build a home business. Lisa gives sound advice that will help you identify an ideal customer (where have you heard that before?), build a business plan, and find the right clients.

Later in the book, she deals with issues specific to being a VA. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, seeking clients, or approaching bloggers to help with their never-ending inboxes, you need to read The Bootstrap VA.

Lisa has graciously allowed me to print an excerpt from The Bootstrap VA, dealing with identifying your ideal customer.

From The Bootstrap VA:

This chapter is probably the most important chapter in the entire eBook. If it wouldn’t be totally obnoxious, I’d capitalize, bold, and italicize every single word. Creating a roadmap now will save you many navigational errors later. Start your business off on the right foot with an organized, thought-out business plan.

If the term “business plan” scares you a little bit (and brings to mind images of businessmen, lawyers, and bank executives in suits in a conference room mulling over a PowerPoint presentation) – don’t worry. We’re bootstrapping, remember? This is a small business you’re creating, and your business plan will reflect that. This is just a way for you to organize your thoughts, get on track, and create some accountability for yourself. No businessmen, lawyers, bank executives, suits, conference rooms, or PowerPoint presentations needed. But a piece of paper and a pen would be handy.

Last thing I want to note before we jump into it is this – don’t forget that what you’re creating here is a lifestyle business. No one I know became a virtual assistant without some significant lifestyle motivators. Perhaps you want to be at home with your kids. Or maybe you want the freedom of working the hours you choose so you can travel. Or maybe, like me, you just want to own a little bit more of your life. Whatever your lifestyle motivators are, make sure to incorporate them into your business plan. Create a business that complements your life and your goals, not one you eventually become a slave to.

So let’s get started on creating your business plan. All of the headings below should be part of your business plan as a whole.

Your Ideal Client

Your business plan needs to start with mapping out your ideal client. By “ideal client” I mean the type of person you’re creating this virtual assistant business to cater to. This is step one in your business plan because, quite literally, every single thing you do in your business – the market you choose, your branding, the services you offer, your rates, your marketing, etc – needs to be done with this person in mind.

Your business should be centered around wooing one specific type of client. This goes much deeper than just saying, for example, “lawyers are my ideal client”. When considering who your ideal client is, ask yourself the following questions in order to get a detailed persona.

  • Is this person male or female?
  • How old is this person?
  • What’s the marital status of this person?
  • Does this person have a family?
  • What does this person look like?
  • Where is this person located?
  • Where does this person work (at home, in an office, at a large company, etc)?
  • How educated is this person?
  • What does this person do for a living?
  • How much does this person make per year?
  • What are this person’s likes and dislikes?
  • What is this person afraid of?
  • What are the struggles this person deals with on a daily basis?
  • What’s important to this person?
  • What is this person’s personality like?
  • What makes this person happy?
  • What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where does this person hang out online and offline?
  • What does this person need that I can offer?

Certainly there are more questions you could ask yourself about your ideal client, but those are a good start. Here are my answers to those questions at this point in time (so you have an example). This is my ideal client right now (I’m not saying that I don’t have clients who are different than this that I love, because I do, but going forward this is the type of client I’d like to take on).

  • Is this person male or female? Female.
  • How old is this person? She’s between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • What’s the marital status of this person? She’s married (or was once married).
  • Does this person have a family? Yes. She has kids that range in age from toddler to teenager.
  • What does this person look like? She’s stylish (yet modest). She ranges in size, eye color, and hair color (looks aren’t important to me for my ideal client).
  • Where is this person located? She’s located in the United States.
  • Where does this person work (at home, in an office, at a large company, etc)? She works from home out of a home office.
  • How educated is this person? She’s college educated.
  • What does this person do for a living? She’s partly a stay-at-home mom and partly a work-athome mom. She’s a blogger, a handmade business owner, and/or a unique online business owner.
  • How much does this person make per year? She makes a moderate five-figure income each year.
  • What are this person’s likes and dislikes? She likes social media, blogging, and using technology to connect with others and get more done. She likes sharing about her lifestyle and home. She doesn’t like wasting time (because she doesn’t have much to spare) and the pressure to keep on top of every new idea and technology.
  • What is this person afraid of? Not getting her to-do list done, having her priorities out of whack (e.g., spending too much time on work and not enough time with her family), and making a big technological mistake that will take forever to fix.
  • What are the struggles this person deals with on a daily basis? Being too busy, keeping up with all the latest and greatest things, managing her schedule, implementing her ideas, getting through her email, and making sure everything family-wise and business-wise gets done.
  • What’s important to this person? Family, making an income from her business, and keeping on top of everything.
  • What is this person’s personality like? She’s busy (maybe even frazzled). She’s not the most organized person. She’s kind and loyal. She’s open and always willing to learn.
  • What makes this person happy? Feeling like everything is under control and she’s able to spend more time with her family than on her business.
  • What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses? She’s personable, friendly, has a great business sense, and she perseveres. She’s unorganized and a little bit “everywhere”.
  • Where does this person hang out online and offline? She’s all about connecting with others on her own platform, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Offline she’s involved in local networking groups, her church, her children’s schools, and at an occasional conference she attends.
  • What does this person need that I can offer? She needs someone who knows her type of business to step along side her and take some of the regular tasks off her plate. She needs help with implementing her great ideas. She needs help organizing her business and creating systems. She needs a blog and business helper she can trust to get things done without a lot of direction or micromanaging.

That’s how detailed you should be in creating your ideal client profile. When I read my answers there, I can actually put faces to that description. When this is defined well, making decisions on services and how to market yourself is easy. Even making the decision on what to call yourself is easier decided when you have your ideal client profile completed (I’m a “blog helper” because that term means more to my ideal client than “virtual assistant” – maybe you’re a “personal assistant”, “marketing assistant”, or another term you come up with that matches your ideal client’s expectations).

I urge you to take some time and sketch this out. And when you’re done, stick your ideal client profile on the wall where you work as a reminder to keep focused. When taking on new clients, make sure to ask yourself if this person matches up with your ideal client profile and if their work will help your business and move you forward, or send you in a totally different direction you don’t want to head in.

And don’t forget – your ideal client can change over time. Mine certainly has. Whenever you’re considering a business shift, go back to this profile and reevaluate how you’re doing things. Are you still appealing to the same person? Do you even want to appeal to the same person (if not, then it’s time for a new profile to be made and to shift your business to fit that new ideal client)?