Many Virtual Assistants start their businesses offering a variety of services and describe themselves as a generalist. I know I did. I had a wide variety of administrative skills and was anxious to replace the income I gave up when I quit my full-time job to start my business. So I was happy to “raise my hand” and say I could do just about anything a potential client was looking for. I listed a VERY long list of potential services on my website. I was eager to be all things to all people. But the real truth of the matter was that I was scared that if I narrowed my marketing focus I would be narrowing the pool of possible clients.

I heard it from many sources – the riches are in the niches. Specialists like Neurologists and Cardiologists charge higher rates than General Practitioners. But it seems so counter-intuitive and I resisted for a long time. Even after I began to specialize in working with authors, I always wanted to “hedge my bets” by listing a lot of other things I could do for clients.

Then one day, I went to a networking luncheon where I was given just 60 seconds to introduce myself AND answer a number of other questions. I was unprepared and knew that I couldn’t rattle off all the things I could do so I simply said “I work with authors to help them get their books published.” The results were SO different that anything I had experienced before. I had quite a few people who had people they wanted to introduce me to and they were CLEAR about what I did and how I could help someone.

As a result, I got braver about declaring my niche. And I learned a very important thing – I could still offer other things for people who came to me. The niche was really all about focusing the marketing and doesn’t mean you have to do ONLY those services. When I was clear about my perfect client (an author who wanted to self-publish a book that is comparable to a traditionally published book) I began to attract more of them. I slowly started to raise my rates – and they were happy to pay them. I was clearly the solution to their problem and they were willing to pay for that value.

There are many niches to choose from and there are programs that you can take to get more specialized skills and often certification for those skills. Declaring a specialty and then positioning yourself as an expert in that field is one of the quickest ways to increase your client base, your rates, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Janica SmithJanica is the SMITH behind AdminiSmith and PublishingSmith. One of her first author clients introduced Janica as her Publishing Navigator. The title stuck as it is a great descriptor of exactly what she does. She navigates through the publishing process while avoiding the pitfalls and finding the best path for her clients. Janica has a passion for books and authors along with administrative skills to keep all the pieces in place. She does all this with gentle encouragement and calm reassurance for the process. She is a voracious learner and keeps up with the rapid changes in the publishing industry and the newest technologies and strategies for both book production and marketing. She takes a comprehensive approach to the business of authorship and provides other business administrative support to her clients through AdminiSmith.

Janica has called Austin, Texas home since 1973 when she arrived to attend the University of Texas.