Sharing your business thoughts and ideas is usually pretty easy, right? You can get excited and passionate about the things you’re working on. But when it comes to writing a blog post, that’s a different story. All of a sudden, you’re a fountain of facts that look like a college outline assignment, or worse, a snooze worthy manual. You might have double checked the grammar but is the reader going to feel like he or she is attending a lecture instead of conversing with you? A good blog post really is a conversation. Your half is on the screen, where you both can see it. But you need the readers to engage their minds -thoughts and questions- in order for them to experience the post as a good read and, hopefully, increase their interest in your business.
Did the paragraph above strike you as conversational? It’s easy to miss if you aren’t watching for it!
I’ve found that the easiest way to start writing conversationally is to visualize it. Just close your eyes and pretend (don’t do this in an office full of people unless you want a mandatory mental health day) you are talking to an actual person for a second. Notice how you speak with contractions? A conversation that doesn’t have contractions would be stiff, almost robot-like.
There should be personal pronouns in conversational writing, too. You don’t start every statement by saying a person’s name when you talk to them. If you read that last sentence without the first word, does it become more like a command and less personable?
And finally, ask questions! In order for the reader to feel like they are participating in a conversation, they want to know that you’re interested in their thoughts and that you care about their agreement of yours. If you look over the paragraphs above, you’ll find that they all contain at least one question. Do you see how those questions aim to include you in the discussion?
Writing a conversational blog post can be daunting at first. But with a little practice it can be a great way to help your readers feel like they’re getting to know you and your business firsthand.
Occasionally business owners/managers need help on a temporary basis. Projects, seasonal work, employee absences, and other unplanned occurrences can cause a void. One minute, things are running smoothly and business is blooming. Then you look up and half the petals have left the flower! Many times a temp agency is hired to fill that void until an employee returns to work or another is found.
Even though you can usually rely on reputable agencies to provide good help, there are advantages to hiring a virtual assistant instead. The biggest return is in the form of familiarity. When an agency sends an employee, you spend a certain amount of time training that person to your company’s systems. The next time, even if you use the same agency, you will likely get a new worker who will have to go through the same training. A virtual assistant can learn everything the first time.
Some virtual assistants will take on short-term tasks while others work only on retainer. Either way can be an asset if your company doesn’t want to waste the resources to continually retrain employees.
Last week I shared about organization and how important it is to a business. Let’s narrow the topic down to schedules this week.
I’ve always found the easiest way to keep a project on deadline is to plan it backwards. I start with a mental picture of exactly what I want and peel back the layers of work to get it there. Then I take the list of tasks and plug them into a timeline, working from deadline to start. This works for me because I always have more enthusiasm and less distraction at the beginning of a project. Chances are, I will get ahead of myself and start meeting goals before their deadlines. If I know precisely when each job needs to be completed, and I’ve scheduled it that way, I’ll almost always finish it early. I like to bank up free time to celebrate success at the end of a project, and this way of scheduling makes it easier for me to do that!
Pride in my work is a major player in why I started this business. It just so happens that MY work is YOUR business. So when I meet my goals, I’m ensuring that you meet yours. It’s a win/win!
This week I’m starting my countdown at home to the big Thanksgiving meal for my family. Starting with the menu and guest list, I break down the steps into shopping, food preparation, house preparation, and communication. There’s a lot that goes into planning a gathering when you want it to be memorable and enjoyable. If I waited until the last minute and tried to throw it all together, something would fall short of my expectations!
One of the first skills we learn as a baby is sorting. We start with voices and faces and then move on to shapes and colors all before we get to the really important things like numbers and letters. Organization is a key component of success as a human being. It’s also one of the essential ingredients in business accomplishments. Passion might be what brings us to the table but if we don’t have a plan we won’t stay there long.
There are lots of ways to be organized. The world of technology makes it easier for some and harder for others. Sometimes an old fashioned pen and paper is sufficient. But most times we have to use an app (or more!) to connect our tasks with our associates. Thankfully, if passion is what brought us to the table, and we kept our commitment to organization, we have a much better chance of reaching that goal of accomplishment!
We got 2+ inches of snow last night. I woke up to a winter wonderland! It’s not what would be considered a large snowfall around here, but it’s definitely an early one. Unfortunately, there is a layer of ice under the fluff making driving hazardous. The local media feeds are full of school and community event cancellations. But you know what’s not cancelled? Work. Bosses still need their employees to show up and be productive. Some of those employees are going to be late, or burning a vacation day, or worse- in a ditch.
As a Virtual Assistant, the weather isn’t a deterrent to getting my job done. My tools, a laptop and cell phone, are with me wherever I am. As long as there is electricity and the internet, I’m good to go! Not only can my clients count on my productivity, they don’t have to worry about whether I can make it to the workplace!
No Virtual Assistant can guarantee they can be productive all the time. Sickness, family situations, and disasters aren’t predictable. But the problems that arise from being a commuter- flat tires, road conditions, traffic jams, and ditches- are avoided when you partner with a remote worker.
With Thanksgiving right
around the corner, it’s time for me to start working on the dinner menu. One
thing my family looks forward to every year is apple pie. Shopping for
ingredients for apple pie sounds like a pretty easy task, right? Did you know
there are 100 types of apples grown commercially in the United States?* There
aren’t that many varieties in my local grocery store but there is a nice
selection. So how do I know which apples
I want to put in my pie? My grocery is careful to only put out fresh, quality
produce. There’s a beautiful mound of each type, all shiny and red (or green.) I can pick up any one of them and feel the
firmness of the flesh and smell the apple scent. But only some apples are good for baking. How
do I know which ones they are? Thankfully, apple producers put out lists of
which apples are best for baking, eating fresh, making applesauce, and so on. I
only have to do a little display surfing to find the ones I want.
How about your product or service? Is there a list your customers can refer to when they’re searching for you? Whether it’s on social media or your company website, you need to make sure your description is thorough. Repeating your tagline or company slogan might make it easy to remember who you are, but fresh content is best for what you have. For example, the phrase “shiny, red apples” might draw someone to look at a product but an accurate summary is needed before they will purchase it. Make sure they feel as if they’ve tasted the tartness, felt the juice on their fingers, and thought of grandma’s kitchen by the time they’ve finished reading about your apples!
Outsourcing takes all the
physical traits of an assistant out of the picture. Height, weight, skin color,
hair color, bad breath (er, excuse me while I grab a mint) all disappear. You
won’t be passing them in the hallway every morning or chatting with them at the
water cooler. Whether he or she is right across town or halfway around the
world, you will only “see” the outcome of their work.
Before you hire an
assistant, focus on the tasks you want them to accomplish. Then when you start
your search for the perfect fit, use that list as keywords to find the right one.
Instead of asking your network for an assistant, use the job description as
their title. Most likely, a virtual assistant can handle a multitude of “general”
jobs so find the one who is best at the specialized tasks you need done now.
Then you can work together to add on more jobs as they come along.
The excitement of owning a
business is especially intense in the beginning. Not only are you setting up your
shop (online or brick and mortar) and filing all the necessary paperwork, you’re
also meeting new customers or clients, tweaking your products, and making sure
EVERY little detail is spit and polished. And you’re hopping in and out of
social media like a hummingbird sharing every exciting detail.
Fast forward a little bit
and you’ve gotten settled into a routine. You’re doing your absolute best to
keep those customers or clients happy and still keeping up with the necessary
paperwork. But the social media hopping has slid to the back burner. After all,
you can’t do everything all the time. There is such a thing as burnout. Besides, how many times do people really need to see a photo of your product?
Your address hasn’t changed and you’ve got a few good reviews to show off. You’ll
pop in on the holidays to wish them well.
Now let’s pause and look
at why the above scenario can be harmful to that business you love and are
working so hard on. First of all,
congratulations on getting a good amount of patrons to start your business! But
remember, those customers aren’t going to be around forever. You need to keep
marketing to replenish the supply!
In today’s world, more people will check out
your social media presence before they will ever visit your store or website.
And those folks aren’t paying as much attention to the stars at the top of your
page or the number of followers you have. They’re looking at what other people
are saying to you in the comment sections. And they’re reading your replies. Did you satisfy a complaint? Do you care about
their concern? Did you take a suggestion to heart? Do you HEAR them?
If you aren’t taking the
time to schedule regular social media posts, they may automatically assume all
the answers to those questions are, “no.” Fresh content opens a door for
communication that shows potential customers you will be there for all their
concerns and opportunities for conversations about your business offerings.
I hope you’re enjoying a nice cup of whatever you enjoy as you browse the website! I thought I’d share a little more about myself today. For a brief introduction be sure to check out the “ABOUT” tab at the top of the page.
A few years ago I decided to try roasting my own coffee. This was something totally alien to me and I was going to have to learn the process from the very bottom. I spent a great deal of time watching YouTube videos and searching the internet. One search led me to a popular coffee bean distributor whose website was filled with tutorials and supplies for home coffee roasters (besides lots of coffee beans.) Jackpot! After several days of watching the beginner videos and agonizing over which beans to purchase, I jumped in to the black hole of becoming a home coffee roaster. And I’m still learning!
Roasting coffee is a perfect analogy for my business philosophy. As an assistant, Daisy Do Write is helping YOUR business to become what YOU want it to be, meeting YOUR goals and standards. Much like the many ways to achieve the perfect roast of coffee, there are many ways to run a business. Everyone looks forward to a perfect cup of coffee. But perfect is determined by individual taste buds and your taste is all that counts. You get to decide what success is. I’m pleased to help you achieve that!
When you purchase a service from Daisy Do Write, you are not buying my time. I provide quality services designed to meet your requirements by a prearranged deadline. Some things can be designed or written up quickly while others take longer to research or tweak. And while some of them may meet your satisfaction on the first read, there will also be some that will need a rewrite. Also, the beginning of a working relationship can involve a little trial and error while personalities and goals become familiar. Later the expectations can be met quicker thanks to that familiarity. Once that happens, your purchase might include faster results AND you will be paying for a more experienced professional.