Thank you for joining me on this mission to create and improve your service offering website. We have a mixture of folks taking the course, some with a website already started and some at square one, so we’re going to start at the very beginning with choosing your domain name and hosting service.
If you already have a domain name and hosting, maybe even some of your website up and going, you can skip this section if you really want to. However, I encourage you to stick with us and review these items as it might just spark a little creativity for you or you might find a little something that you want to tweak or change that can improve what you already have.
Here’s our to-do list for this first section:
o Brainstorming Ideas
o Focus – Niche or General
o Domain Name Selection and Registration
o Technical Details
o Homework and Action Steps!
Are you ready to get started? Let’s dig in and get to work….
Everything starts with brainstorming. This first step is to get us in the right mindset to work on our website.
Before you even buy your domain name or do any work on your website you need to have an idea of what you’re going to offer on that website. Virtual assistant is a broad term and it covers a lot of services.
I find that brainstorming is a personal thing, no one can tell you how to do it or what to do and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I do most of my brainstorming on a boring legal pad with multicolored pens and a Sharpie. It’s messy, but it works for me. Find what works for you and grab your supplies.
You can use paper and pen, a mind map software, a blank Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a whiteboard, a mind mapping tool, or a coloring book and crayons – as long as it gets your mind flowing, it’s perfect. Just start and keep going until you get to where you want to be.
Just write down your ideas around these things, they’ll help you narrow down your focus on what you want to do, what things you want to offer, and what you might want your domain name to be. Dump all of your ideas out onto the page and then we’ll get into deciding and planning.
Focus: Niche or General Services
We’re going to look at this before we choose a domain name, because it might change your mind about the type of domain name you’d like to have. Like I mentioned earlier, “virtual assistant” is a very broad term and it can cover just about any type of service offering from bookkeeping to content creation, transcription to affiliate management, graphics creation to customer service, and so much more.
Offering Specific Services
You may already have this narrowed down if you’ve been working with clients for awhile, but let’s dig in to help the new VAs in the group find their focus too. Even if you’ve been at it for awhile, it’s good to review your service offerings every now and then and maybe make a few changes based on the things you really enjoy doing.
As a personal example, when I first started out I was more of a general virtual assistant who did a wide range of things; content creation, article submissions, blog set up, graphics, affiliate management, auto-responder set up, etc… pretty much anything a client asked for. I’ll be honest with you: I wanted to have a full schedule so I took just about any assignment there was to take. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if it’s paying the bills and putting food on the table for you and your family.
As I got into more work, I started to realize I was more productive and proficient in certain areas. Some things were easier for me to do, some things I really enjoyed doing, and other things I just really did not enjoy at all. I slowly started to make changes to my service list, offering less services and bringing my focus more toward transcription and the things I knew I could do well, the things that brought out the best in me, and the things that my clients always seemed to rave about when it came to quality reviews and testimonials.
Now my main focus is transcription with just a few add-on services.
A funny thing happened when I finally made that change in my services offered. I was originally afraid of losing clients, completely frightened that I was going to make less money and shrink my income, but the opposite happened.
Knowing my focus helped attract more clients. I was able to grow things from there and I reached a point where I needed to bring on more people to help me with the workload. It was a turning point for me and something I’m very grateful for.
Offering Services to Specific People
All that said, a niched down focus doesn’t have to be the tasks you’re doing and the service you offer, it can be about the type of people you work with. Different industries have different needs and requirements, different tasks that need done in specific ways.
When you focus on working with a particular type of business model you become very familiar with things like industry jargon and things that only apply to that area of business. This speeds up your work flow process, much the same way that focusing on a particular set of tasks would.
Let’s look at some examples…
Maybe you’re a virtual assistant for real estate agents. Real estate agents are busy people and while many have personal assistants that work in their office alongside them, sometimes they need more help and they frequently hire virtual assistants to work on the technical details and repetitive tasks that don’t need direct oversight like updating listings online, preparing documents, and scheduling appointments.
Perhaps you’re a virtual assistant to authors and you handle things like proofreading, editing, and formatting their work in the correct formats for the different publishing mediums. This could also include things like scheduling appointments for interviews, monitoring reviews of their work online, helping them find illustrators and cover designers, and possibly doing some research. You handle the little details so they can focus on the writing.
Maybe you’re a virtual assistant for busy bloggers doing tasks like moderating comments, screening review and guest post requests, managing the flood of email they get, researching topics for post content, and making sure their blog is running smoothly with all the necessary security updates.
I could go on like this for hours, but I think you get the general idea of what I mean.
Focusing on a specific group of people to serve well can help make your virtual assistant business very profitable and has the added bonus of keeping things easy to manage.
Domain Name Examples and Ideas
So now let’s talk about the actual domain name that you’re going to use to offer and promote your services. Here’s the thing; it can be whatever you want it to be.
You can include terms like virtual assistant, VA, assistant, helper, manager, etc… but you don’t have to use those terms.
You can base it on your name and use something like LorettaHelpsAuthors.com or AliciaAssistsBusyBloggers.com, but again you don’t have go with that structure either.
You can keep it super simple and just use your first and last name, LorettaOliver.com. This format can also be flexible if you change what you do later on. That one is clickable because I actually use that domain as a sort of one-page to link to my projects and websites. Nothing fancy, just something I have up in case someone is searching for me by name.
You might want to use your full name but add something to it, a title or a descriptive word. You could use something like LisaRobersonVA.com or AliciaJayTranscription.com. These are still easy to remember and communicate, but they’re more than just your name.
You can use something based on the service you offer. For example, I have TeleseminarsTranscribed.com and theSmallBusinessTranscriptionist.com for my transcription service offerings.
Don’t be afraid to have some fun with it and use a name like ProofreadingNinja.com or VirtualHugCustomerService.com. Or maybe a fun play with an online username handle that you go by on forums – Sugarrae.com springs to mind as a good example of that. It will be memorable, brandable, and helps convey a bit of personality right away. Also, a fun name makes for fun business card options.
If you already have a domain name and existing site to work with, awesome. Rock on.
What Domain Name Extension to Use
In most cases I recommend getting the dot com, but there are a lot of interesting extensions available these days and they might be a good fit for what you’re offering.
In addition to the .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info, .us, .co.uk, .co, .ca, .us, .de, and other location specific extensions, there are also new TLDs that can be fun and totally different,….
|.graphics for a graphic design service
.management or .marketing for those type of services
|.services or .consulting could be another choice
.me or .name for a personal blog or one-pager
Those are just a handful of examples, there are hundreds of URL extensions available. In the majority of cases you’ll just want to get the standard .com because that’s what people are familiar with and used to typing, but in the right context and for the right niche site project a fun domain extension could be a great choice to help you stand out from the crowd.
The Technical Details:
This isn’t really a technical details course, but I don’t want you to get hung up on technical issues either. If you find yourself needing help with any of these things, we’ll work through it together. Just leave a comment below or send me an email. Even if it’s something small, if you’re feeling stuck or frustrated by a detail, don’t be afraid to ask for more help.
Domain Name Registration
As far as what service to use for registering your domain name, it’s really a matter of personal preference. I use Namecheap for domains. I’ve used other services in the past, but in my experience Namecheap has the best consistent pricing and excellent customer service compared to most. They also have the easiest process to go through without offering you a dozen up-sells that you don’t need, so it’s very straightforward.
The top domain registration companies have resources on their sites to help you if you get stuck, and several also have live chat available to assist you if you need help. If you run into any trouble along the way and aren’t sure if something is right, give me a shout.
Hosting Services for Your Website
If this is your first website you’ll also need hosting for it. VA Helper and my service based websites are very happily hosted with Reliable Webs. After trying out several hosting services over the years (including HostGator, GoDaddy, Bluehost, and a few others) this became my website home because they focus on small businesses and solopreneurs, getting you up and running with personalized customer service and real technical support instead of copy and paste responses like some hosting companies out there.
You’ll need to tell your domain name who your hosting is so that they can communicate; this is done by changing the custom DNS settings. Changing your domain’s DNS settings to get your domain name pointed to your host is also going to vary slightly depending on what registrar and hosting combination you are using. Usually they look something like what’s pictured here on the right.
There should be plenty of documentation in the resources section of both the registrar and the hosting company, but as always if you get stuck on this technical detail please let me know and I will help you get it done.
This isn’t a blog necessarily, but even if you’re just setting up service pages and an about section WordPress makes everything super easy and it’s very customizable. It’s perfect whether you’re a beginner or already well seasoned at website setup.
Installation takes a minute or less. You can have your website up and ready to take clients today if you want.
Installing WordPress on your domain varies slightly depending on what hosting company you are using, whether or not they have a cPanel and what version of cPanel it might be. There are going to be videos, tutorials, and FAQ sections to help you out, but in most cases you’ll just click on a button in the cPanel and it will do all the work for you.
Once you login to your cPanel scroll down to the bottom and look for this panel:
Just click on the WordPress logo and it will walk you through everything and do the installation.
Side note: If you go with Reliable Webs for your host they’ll install WordPress for you, all you have to do is ask.
Additional reading articles:
Homework and Action Steps for This Section:
- If you don’t have a domain name yet, brainstorm ideas.
- Register the domain name you decide on.
- Set up a hosting account if you don’t have one already.
- Set your domain name DNS settings.
- Install WordPress on your domain.
Namecheap for registering your domain.
Reliable Webs for hosting your website.
If you KNOW that you really want to create a virtual assistant business that you love and you’d like an all-in-one solution to get the resources and support you need to get this business started -at a price you can afford-
join us in the VA Startup Mastermind!
This is a small group of folks who are just getting started with their virtual assistant services business online. There are weekly accountability posts, loads of resources, and so much more being added to the group on a regular basis. You can post any time to get feedback or ask questions about anything you need help with to get your business off the ground and growing.