Meet Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant

Janet BarclayWeb URL:  http://www.organizedassistant.com
Years in Business: 10
Type of Business: web design & virtual assistance
Works:  100% virtually
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Twitter ID:  @janetbarclay

Ruth:  Welcome to The Naked VA blog Janet. Tell us about Organized Assistant and yourself.

Janet: I’m the only website designer and virtual assistant who specializes in helping professional organizers to maximize their online presence through blogging.

My services encompass every aspect of maintaining a successful blog, including proofreading and editing posts, creating an editorial calendar, and communicating with guest bloggers, as well as WordPress technical support and theme design. By taking on tasks my clients don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do, or don’t want to do, they’re able to focus on serving their clients and growing their businesses.

Ruth: How did you get started on the pathway to becoming a virtual professional?

Janet: It happened almost by accident! I had started a part-time business as a professional organizer, and one of my organizing colleagues asked me to help her automate her monthly newsletter. As it turned out, because of the way she had been managing her mailing list up until then, it was going to be quite time-consuming to transfer it over to the automated system. She had neither the time nor the interest in learning how to do it, and offered to pay me to do it for her. It was at that moment that I realized you can organize someone’s workspace, and you can teach them good time management skills, but sometimes the best way to help them is to free up some of their time, allowing them to work on things that are going to generate income, or spend more time with their families, or whatever else they would rather be doing.

That was a real turning point for me, and I began adding website design (which I’d already been doing on the side for several years) and virtual assistance to my service offerings. I enjoyed this type of work so much that I reached a point where I wanted it to become my full-time job. I resigned from my outside employment in 2005 and have never regretted it for one moment! With the growth of my client base, I gradually cut back on the organizing side of my business, and no longer offer that service at all.

Ruth: I always enjoy hearing how one pivotal moment starts the motion. It’s exciting to reflect back and see how everything built along the way. Have you had a mentor to guide, encourage, and open doors for you?

Janet:  I’ve been fortunate to meet many other business women who were very generous with their advice, guidance, and support. Through the Golden Horseshoe Virtual Assistants Group (a local VA network), I now have an accountability partner. Each week, we report on our goals for the upcoming week and our progress over the past week. We also bounce ideas off each other, which helps both of us to keep moving forward.

Ruth: If you could share a nugget of insight for someone considering a virtual career such as yours what would that be?

Janet:  Don’t be afraid to specialize! I’ve talked to a lot of new business owners who were reluctant to focus on a specific market or service because they thought it would limit their earning potential; in fact I went through that myself. But as I’ve narrowed down my services to the things I am best at and enjoy the most, and fine-tuned my marketing to target a specific audience, I’ve been able to attract more clients and even raise my rates without losing any business.

The truth is that people will still contact you with other opportunities, and you always have the option of saying ‘yes’ if you know how to do it and your schedule allows it. And it feels really good when you reach the point that you can say ‘no’ to projects you really don’t want to take on!

Ruth: Now tell me, what advice would you give someone seeking a virtual professional such as yourself? 

Janet: The best way to approach this is to make a list of everything you do during your working hours, and then identify which tasks you might be able to delegate to a VA. It may be things you find challenging, or things you just don’t enjoy doing. Consider what will have the biggest impact on your time and stress management if you were to remove them from your own to-do list.

Once you have some ideas in mind, you can begin looking for a VA who performs the services you need. There are many VAs who specialize in a particular area such as blogging, bookkeeping, email marketing, customer service, or appointment scheduling. You might even find one who specializes in your particular industry.

On the other hand, you may not need a specialist at all, and there are lots of VAs who offer a wide range of general administrative services.

Ruth: These tips are sure to be helpful. Any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

Janet: Starting a local VA network is one of the best moves I’ve ever made. As virtual professionals, we tend to become isolated, and getting together once a month gives us an opportunity to form much closer relationships than are possible through online forums, as we learn from one another and help each other to grow our businesses.

If you’re a virtual assistant, I highly recommend that you participate in your local VA group, if there is one. And if there isn’t… maybe you should start one!  

Ruth:Janet it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me and sharing about Organized Assistant.

Janet has recently introduced a new Blog Evaluation Service for professional organizers and others who use blogging to promote their service businesses. Not sure if your blog is living up to it’s potential and truly connecting with readers? The evaluation will shine the light on what you’re doing right and any area that could be enhanced.

4 Responses to “Meet Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant”

  1. Janet Barclay Says:

    Ruth, I sincerely thank you not only for featuring me here on The Naked VA, but for helping to educate the public about virtual assistance through your blog.

  2. Mary H Ruth Says:

    Wonderful to see you here, Janet, and read about your experiences. I’m jealous of your local group of VAs – bet that’s a huge support and resource!

    And yes indeed, thanks to Ruth for presenting this series!

  3. Ruth Martin Says:

    Janet: I’m thrilled to have interviewed such a deserving businesswoman. Thanks again for being part of the interview series.

    Mary: Aw, thanks so much. I’m not sure if any of the local groups listed on the Associations page would be near you or not. Check it out > http://www.thenakedva.com/recommended-resources/associations-organizations-networks Or maybe, …get together with a peer and discuss starting a local meet-up group.

  4. Janet Barclay Says:

    Mary: Nice to bump into you here as well! Feel free to get in touch if you’d like some pointers about starting a VA group in your area.

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