Being a virtual assistant lets you live life on your own terms. You choose your hours, set your rates, and even cherry-pick the clients that you enjoy working with. As a virtual assistant, you can create your own schedule. This gives you the freedom and space to design your life and business. Are you wondering how to launch your own Virtual Assistant business? Continue reading if you want to learn what to put on your website, how to find your first clients, client pitfalls to avoid, how to set your rates, and how to turn your virtual assistant clients into repeat buyers.
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Once you’ve decided to start your own business as a virtual assistant, you’ll want to create a website. Your website will function as your digital office. It’s where potential clients will go to learn more about you and your services.
The good news is that creating a website doesn’t have to be hard. There are four essential pages you’ll want to make sure you include…
An about page is usually the second most popular page on a website. That’s because potential clients want to learn more about the person they’re considering working with. They want to know a bit about your personality and what projects you enjoy tackling.
Try to write a brief biography about yourself. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. Just two or three paragraphs that cover the basics like your name, where you live, and any previous job experience that’s relevant. For example, if you plan to offer logo design services, then definitely mention that you got a degree in graphic design in college. That will impress potential clients.
This is the page where you tell clients what you can do for them. It doesn’t have to be a particularly long page. Write a paragraph that highlights why you’re awesome to work with such as your attention to detail or your ability to make tech topics simple.
Then create a list of tasks you can do for your clients. You can use bullet points and cover some of the most important ones. For example, if you plan to be a virtual assistant to authors, some of your tasks might include:
Remember, that your list of tasks is not set in stone. You’ll probably change it as you gain experience and learn more about what services are most enjoyable (and profitable) for your business.
Next, you’ll need to add a contact page to your website. You can post your email address but this has a tendency to result in heavy spam, making it more likely that you’ll overlook a message from a potential client.
So, you may want to try using a contact form. If your website is built on WordPress, you can use a free plugin like Contact Form 7. If you’re using website software, there may be an option for creating forms. You’ll need to check the help manual or reach out the support team for assistance.
If you’ve never worked with a client, you might think you don’t have a portfolio. But stop for a moment and consider who you may have helped with similar tasks. For example, if you redesigned a friend’s blog, then show off a “before” and “after” screenshot. If you offer content marketing, then create two or three short sample articles to post to your portfolio.
It doesn’t matter that you weren’t paid for these portfolio pieces. When clients come to this page, they’re looking to see if you can do the tasks you promised and what your style looks like. As long as you show them you can do the work, they don’t care if you did that work just to help a friend.
When it comes to building your website, don’t drag out the process for weeks or months. Create your website and get busy looking for clients. You can always come back and change it once you have a steady stream of clients.
Once you’ve set up your website, you’re ready to start looking for your first clients. Many new virtual assistants don’t know where to look for clients or how to start marketing their new business. If that describes you, don’t panic. Here are a few ways to land your first client …
The first and most obvious place to look for your first client is for a referral from friends or family. Tell everyone that will listen that you’re a virtual assistant and you’re looking for work.
Many VAs have started their careers just from referrals that came from their social circles. Share how you can help clients and be enthusiastic when describing what you do. Your enthusiasm can attract clients who are eager to work with you.
Another place to look for clients is on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile on this social media network, set one up. If you have a profile you haven’t used in a long time, then dust it off.
When it comes to your job title, be sure to use the phrase ‘Virtual Assistant’. Project managers and potential clients do search on LinkedIn when they’re ready to hire someone and this is a term they’re likely to use.
After you’ve set up a LinkedIn profile or updated your existing one, start connecting with friends and colleagues. Sometimes, an invitation to connect can remind an old co-worker or friend that they know someone who needs your services.
Think about the type of clients you want to serve. Maybe you want to help authors handle their social media. If that’s the case, look for Facebook groups where authors are gathered and request to join.
Depending on the group’s rules, you may be allowed to share your VA services in a post. Some groups don’t allow service providers to post about their businesses but they do let members ask for referrals. You can comment and tell other members about the services you offer if they’re looking for a VA.
Some virtual assistants have gotten their first clients through various job boards. Typically, job boards work like this: a client posts about the project they need done on the board. This project can be big like redesigning their entire website or it might be small like scheduling a few social media updates each month.
Then virtual assistants who are members of the job board can reply to the client, answering questions, and sharing why they’re right for the job. If the poster decides to work with you, then you get the assignment.
Usually, the job board gets a percentage of your earnings as a fee for letting you use the service. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to pay any money upfront to use the board. In fact, you only pay if you’re successfully matched with a client.
Keep in mind that finding your first clients as a virtual assistant can take some time. Don’t give up if it takes a few weeks to start seeing results from your marketing efforts. If you preserve and keep networking, you will land that first client.
Not every virtual assistant job is easy or simple. Some projects start out well but as you work, you encounter problems that feel overwhelming. The good news is that while it may seem like a big deal now, many of these problems can be solved quickly and efficiently once you know what to do.
A big pain point for VAs is scope creep. This is when the client asks you to do more work than the original amount you agreed upon. For example, you’re designing a book cover for a client. She wants you to design bookmarks with the cover on them, too.
You may be tempted to accept this extra work without saying a word. But what you should really do is renegotiate with your client.
Keep in mind that most clients aren’t trying to get extra work out of you when they make a request. They just don’t understand how much additional time and effort these extra tasks will cause you.
One of the best ways to handle scope creep is to talk with your client. Tell your client that once the cover is completed, you’ll be happy to begin a new project for the bookmarks.
A common pitfall that VAs encounter is not getting needed materials from a client. It might be that they haven’t sent you their logo, copy, or login information. The way to handle this issue is to send a short message to your client and let them know that you’ll have to charge an extra fee because you don’t have the resources you need.
Give them a clear deadline in your email. Say something like, “If I don’t receive XYZ from you within the next week, then you’ll be charged an additional $25”.
Most clients will quickly find the files you need when they get this message.
Your client might love your work on Tuesday but ask for several large revisions on Wednesday. This is a common problem when you’re working on a project that requires approval from several people.
For example, the marketing manager may love your graphics. But the sales team leader wants to change the colors or suggest different fonts.
You can handle revision requests by communicating clearly. Tell the client that the first round of revisions is covered but after that, you’ll be charging $XX for each hour of work. When clients understand that they could be charged extra, they tend to limit revisions.
If you’re a new VA, you might think you should offer free, unlimited revisions. But you don’t want to make this mistake. Otherwise, you risk working on the same project for months or even years to come. Meanwhile, you keep waiting for the end of the project so you can get paid.
If a client feels strongly about a revision, then they’ll pay your additional rate without complaint. A good client understands that your time is valuable and never wants to take advantage of you or your skills.
Most virtual assistant problems can be easily solved with a simple conversation, whether by email or phone. You can stand up for yourself calmly and professionally now that you know what to do.
Setting your rates as a new virtual assistant can feel scary. Many new VAs price their rates very low in the hopes that this will attract more clients.
While you may get more interest initially, this method usually backfires because bad clients tend to hire based on your price alone. You’ll end up thinking that being a VA doesn’t pay enough and is too much of a headache to deal with.
Here’s how to set better rates that attract quality clients…
It can be helpful to look at what other VAs charge to help you set your prices. Some virtual assistants do post their rates on their website.
But make sure you’re price comparing with VAs who do your type of work. Comparing rates between a VA who specializes in web design and a VA who specializes in social media videos won’t help you set your rates.
Next, you need to understand how VAs set their rates. There are two common ways to do this. Some virtual assistants charge a fixed price per project while others charge an hourly rate.
The hourly rate is helpful when you’re new and inexperienced. It gives you the space to learn how long it takes you to do certain tasks, which projects your clients value, and what a fair wage for your time is.
However, the hourly rate is not helpful if you have advanced skills. For example, when Trisha started out as a VA, she set up mailing lists for her clients. The process took her about 4 hours and she charged $25 per hour. This means her clients were paying her an average of $100.
But as Trisha developed her skills, it only took her 2 hours to handle mailing list set up. Since she was still charging by the hour, she earned $50 instead of $100. This means she was losing money because of her experience.
The way to overcome a problem like this is to offer a fixed price. That’s what Trisha began doing. She charged a flat-rate fee of $100 for every mailing list set up that she did. She was still offering the exact same service, the only difference was the new price reflected Trisha’s years of expertise and knowledge.
Make sure you ask for a deposit from your clients at the start of each project. This protects you in the event that you start working on a project but your client has to cancel it for some reason. You’ll still have the deposit which should cover the time you’ve already invested.
But a deposit also protects your client, too. It assures them that they’ve booked time on your busy schedule and makes their project a top priority.
Most clients understand this and will happily pay the deposit. But if a client balks when you bring this up, they may be more interested in test driving your services than making an actual purchase.
Setting your rates when you’re first starting your virtual assistant business might make you feel nervous. This is natural and you’ll become comfortable discussing your prices as time goes on.
Some virtual assistants complain about the ‘feast or famine’ cycles in their business. But the truth is that VAs with this problem aren’t focused on getting repeat work.
When you have repeat clients, you can balance your bills each month with ease and you don’t have to spend time constantly searching for new projects. So, how do you get and keep repeat work? Try using some of these tips…
If you don’t do a good job with the initial project, clients aren’t likely to hire you for follow up ones. Think of your first project with a new client as an audition. You want to bring your best work to the table so that next time they have a project, they think of you.
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When you don’t deliver on time, clients are less likely to give you repeat work. If there truly is an emergency or a valid reason that you can’t meet a deadline, let your client know as far in advance as you can.
Send an email or call them on the phone. Tell them that you won’t be able to meet the deadline then suggest a new one. For example, “A loved one is having emergency surgery this week, so I can’t meet our deadline. However, I can have your project back to you by (a new date). Does that work for you?”
When you approach clients this way, most of them will be understanding and will still be open to working with you again. Honest communication is the foundation of a successful working relationship. It’s essential if you hope to turn a client into a repeat customer.
When you’ve finished working on a project that both you and your client enjoyed, bring up the subject of working together again. For example, you might say something like, “I enjoyed redesigning your website. I notice your social media branding doesn’t match. I can help you with that.”
Don’t be pushy when you make this type of observation. Simply point out a problem area and offer to help. Some clients will be enthusiastic and want to start work immediately while others may not be ready to hire you for another project just yet.
Another way to land more repeat customers is to create a package around your most popular services. If you’re a virtual assistant who specializes in social media management, then you could create a package where you upload 100 social media updates for your clients.
Your clients may be more likely to hire you to do this task when they know how much you’ll charge. It makes it easy for them to look at their budget and determine if they can afford your services.
But when it comes to creating a package, try to look for a task or project that clients will need monthly, like blog content or website backups. This way, your clients can continue to pay you month after month.
Getting repeat work can take time. Keep offering exceptional service and let clients know that you’re available for more work in the future.
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