BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

Virtual Assistant

Services you could offer

Creating/updating/maintaining databases & CRMs
Collating business cards into an Excel sheet for uploading to  CRMs or address books
Data entry
Basic bookkeeping
Data mining / online research
Typing up notes
Minute taking (This pays incredibly well and I have a course if you’re interested!)
Video creation/editing/uploading
Social media set up/training/maintenance/scheduling
Facebook, Twitter or Google ads – creating, monitoring & analysing
Setting up/managing webinars & podcasts
Forum commenting/monitoring
Setting up LinkedIn groups (Click here if you need LinkedIn training)
Photoshop work
Transcription
Marketing – creating sales pages/squeeze pages/pop up email boxes
Creating/editing/formatting templates & guides
Event coordination – venue finding & confirmation/collating attendees & documents/on-site support
Chasing outstanding invoices
Diary/calendar management – scheduling meetings, syncing with devices, adding upcoming eventsEmail management – detox/labels/filters/folders
Writing/editing/formatting reports & presentations
Researching/making travel & accommodation arrangements
Lifestyle management – personal duties inc buying gifts, dry cleaning, booking restaurants & events, house moving, researching cheaper utility companies, paying bills etc
Blog set up/writing/SEO/editing/scheduling
Website set up/writing/SEO/editing/scheduling (Click here to learn WordPress)
Newsletter set up/writing/autoresponders/editing/maintenance/scheduling
eBook editing/formatting/publishing
Gmail set up & training
Designing/formatting infographics, logos, banners, social media profile images

GETTING MATERIAL AND content TO PROMOTE YOUR WEB SITE/BLOG


PAYING FOR ARTICLES AND GETTING PAID TO WRITE    video


Don’t offer

Call answering services. They’re a right pain in the arse and you’ll never get a minute to yourself. Suggest the client uses a call-answering service instead. You can always get the summary emails sent to you by the company so you can call them all back in one go.
Think about your niche and what tasks people in it might need doing
Keep learning so you’re constantly honing your existing skills and adding new ones
Consider charging a retainer for ‘bitty’ tasks
Only offer services that you actually know how to do
Only offer services that you actually like doing
Don’t take on anything that doesn’t fit in with other clients, existing tasks or your main business objective such as being completely virtual or being able to work around family commitments etc
Basically don’t take on anything that doesn’t tie in with why you decided to become a VA in the first place – it may be money coming in now but it’ll definitely become a problem you’ll need to fix later
Watch out for people trying to save money on a large job when they should hire a professional Copywriter, Web Developer, Graphic Designer etc instead

Resources


Read my blog post on How to Decide What Services to Offer for things you should take into consideration.
Read my own personal VA website page on the tasks I’ve undertaken for past and present clients.
Go through the VA Interviews on my site and see what services they offer and to what niche.
Learn how to build a WordPress website in an afternoon and then offer it as a service.
   



25 ways to market your Virtual Assistant business

Every freelancer needs to find clients, but unless you come from a marketing background, you’ve probably never done any self-promotion before. In fact the thought probably fills you with complete horror. Well I’m sorry to tell you that you may not like putting yourself out there, but you’re just going to have to suck it up cos nobody hires someone they’ve never heard of! It isn’t as hard as you’d think though:

How to promote your Virtual Assistant business

1) Network

A great way to get the word out about what you do is to go out and meet people. Even if these aren’t initially your target market, networking raises your profile in your local business community and people often refer clients to you later.
I sometimes go to local freelancing events and meetings and, even though there are other VAs in my local area, the other freelancers tell me I’m the only VA they know about because they haven’t met the others! Being around other freelancers also provides a place to discuss issues that your non-freelancer friends won’t have and to get free techie advice.
Read my article on how to network for more detailed advice, get my free networking info sheet to hand out at events from my downloads page, and sort out your elevator pitch so you can tell people what you do for a living.

2) Get some cool business cards

Get some cards that create a bit of interest. Make them stand out and add a strapline that creates a bit of buzz and discussion. I personally use Moo.com as they have some really cool cards and the design process is really simple.
Read this article I wrote on common business card mistakes and think twice about using free ones cause they usually look shonky as hell. You don’t have to buy loads, just order 50 at a time and Google ‘creative business cards’ to get some inspiration.

3) Pimp your email signature

Include any social media accounts and website URLs and consider adding a tagline so people know what you do (eg: “I give business owners more hours in the day”). My own email signature says I’m an ‘Anti-Chaos Technician’ which gets a lot of positive comments.
You can use lots of free and paid email generators now including Wisestamp and Hubspot.

4) Arrange meetings with online contacts

You’ve probably got loads of online contacts – people in your email address book, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers etc but I bet you’ve not met half of them. Make it your aim to meet two people a week (Friday afternoons are good so you don’t lose valuable work time), buy them coffee and find out more about their business and the challenges they face.
People do business with people they know, so market your Virtual Assistant business by getting to know your contacts better and staying on their radar.

5) Ask for LinkedIn introductions

I can’t stress enough how important LinkedIn is when it comes to marketing your business. It forms the main part of my DIY course as well as my guide on how I get my clients. Many of the trainees on my DIY VA course have gotten work just by having and using an excellent LinkedIn profile so it really does work.
A good tip is to ask for an introduction. So if one of your LinkedIn connections has a first-degree contact that fits your target market perfectly then ask them to introduce you explaining why you might both mutually benefit from knowing each other.
If you’re not getting work from your LinkedIn profile then you’re definitely doing it wrong. Click here to learn how to fix it.

6) Run a Google Adwords campaign

I’ve had some good results with Adwords in the past but it really does help if you not only know who your target market is, but you also research how to use Adwords! It’s like a dark art and quite complicated but Google often offer vouchers and they have a fantastic free help service too.
Keep an eye on your spend since they sometimes mask how much they’re charging you.

7) Run a Facebook Ad

Again, you need to research, know your target niche and read up on how to run a campaign. As with all your marketing, you’re trying to get your info in front of the right people so know who they are and get a targeted ad for your business in their face.
Facebook ads are way cheaper than Adwords and you can get your ad in front of some really specific audiences.

8) Run some Twitter Ads

Twitter ads are awesome because you can put your ad in front of people who follow specific Twitter accounts. So if your target market are lawyers for example, then they’ll probably be following the accounts of the big law magazines, the Law Society and other professional bodies they’re members of as well as law conferences etc.

9) Blog

You don’t always need to blog and if you haven’t got anything to say and no time to write, then I wouldn’t bother. But blogging is great for SEO purposes (the consultant who wrote my Ultimate Guide to Local SEO recommends it) and a good way to showcase your knowledge and skills.
I have some case studies on my own Freelance PA website which show how I have helped solved the problems of my clients which demonstrate to potential clients how good I am at my job and how I work.

10) Print flyers

Get some flyers made then pin them up in strategic and specific places your target market might be such as co-working spaces, serviced offices and community boards. You could also take them to places you know your target market are going to be such as meet ups, exhibitions and other industry-specific events.

11) Use Twitter

Get a Twitter account and learn how to use it. I get a lot of referrals from Twitter actually as people say they can see that I know my stuff, I add value and I offer useful advice without asking for anything in return.
A Twitter presence also raises your profile amongst local business owners and generates traffic to your website. Use Buffer App to schedule static tweets and save time and keep an eye on people who follow industry-specific or local accounts such as your local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce etc.

12) Tap your previous business network

Market your VA business by contacting all your old colleagues, tell them what you’re now doing and ask them if they know anyone who might need your services.
Also contact previous work clients (as long as you’re not breaching any legal contracts), tell them what you now do and ask if there’s anything you can help them with. These are warm leads – you already know each other and you understand their challenges so are in a good position to help.
A lot of VAs first clients are actually ex full-time work clients.

13) Tap your social network

Tell all your friends and family what you’re doing, ways in which you can help people and ask them to keep their ears open for opportunities and leads. As with job hunting, the more people who know what you’re looking for, the more likely you are to find it.

14) Scout online job boards

Look at companies offering part-time admin jobs and offer them a virtual solution instead. They might never have heard of a VA before and love that there’s no associated employee costs with using a freelancer.

15) Answer questions on LinkedIn groups

Keep an eye on discussions in the groups that your target market are members of (as well as local business groups) and post useful advice in response to questions. If you provide solutions to problems then you’ll quickly get on people’s radars. They’ll appreciate your generosity and will check out your profile.

16) Use Craigslist in the US (Craigslist in the US) is a great place to post and reply to job ads. You can list what you can do for businesses as well as keep an eye on job vacancies to approach the company about your services.

17) Add your business to Google my Business

If someone types in “admin support (name of your town)” then Google will list you near the top if you’re listed on Google my Business because they obviously give preferential treatment to people using their services. You don’t have to provide your full address if you work from home.

18) Add your business to free online business directories

Although you’ll often receive a fair amount of sales calls from these companies wanting you to place a paid ad, a free listing in these directories will help your SEO ranking. In fact, any website like LinkedIn, Remember to update each site if and when your services change and always ask people how they found you so you know which sites are working for you.

19) Join your local Chamber of Commerce or other Business Groups

Not only are these groups full of potential clients, they also offer lots of networking events, talks and training sessions that will benefit your business.
Remember to claim the membership fee as a business expense.

20) Attend trade shows and exhibitions

If you attend events your specific target market will be at then you’re putting yourself right in front of a captive audience. Research the event to find out who’ll be attending (or exhibiting) if you can, take loads of business cards and work the room.

21) Exhibit at trade shows and exhibitions

This one can be expensive but also very effective. Having (or even sharing) a trade stand at business events is a good way to raise your profile and tell people what you do and how you can add value to their business.

22) Run print ads in local business publications or directories

People can’t hire a VA if they don’t know what one is or where to find one. Quite a few of my clients had never heard of a VA and hadn’t realised the service even existed. I’ve found that referred work can come from surprising sources but nobody can refer or hire you if they don’t know you exist.

23) Run print ads in your target market’s trade mags

As always, you need to target your niche wherever possible and put yourself in places where they are going to physically or virtually be. Address their specific problems in your ad and outline how you’re perfectly suited to help them or direct them to a place that does.
Your LinkedIn profile and website should demonstrate your relevant industry experience and have case studies, projects and testimonials as evidence.

24) Offer to write an article for your target market’s go-to publications or websites

This should always be a solution-based article telling the reader how to solve a problem they have. It could be a general article on what a VA is and how they help people, or an article on an industry-specific problem and how it can be fixed – so a way in which they can use tech to work better or how to organise their systems etc.
Share what you know for free and people will check you out.

25) Leave tips and advice on industry-specific forums and blog posts

People use forums to find answers so be useful and solve their problems. As above, if you share what you know and provide solutions (which is what a VA does for a living!) then you’ll get noticed and people will want to connect with you because they see you as valuable.

Takeaways

·                                 Always ask new enquiries where they heard of you and keep doing the things that bring in clients and stop using marketing avenues that aren’t yielding results.
·                                 Having a niche whether that be the type of clients you work with, the industry you serve or the services you offer makes it a billion times easier to target your marketing.
·                                 Being a VA is all about using your brain and working around a problem, so think creatively about how to market yourself and put yourself and your services in front of your specific target market.
·                                 Learning how to use LinkedIn will be the best thing you ever did for your business. I have some courses here that cover everything from creating an All-Star profile to using groups, advanced search and company pages.
·                                 Remember these are all simply ideas for how to promote your Virtual Assistant business. Individually Google ‘how to…’ for each one to learn more and find out exact details on how to do that specific thing.
·                                 Click here to discover the only method I use to get my own clients.
My DIY VA course has a whole section on marketing and also covers every single other thing you need to set up and run your own Virtual Assistant business.
Want to put your organization and communication skills to work from the comfort of your own home? Good news: busy professionals need your help — and are willing to pay for it.
As a virtual assistant (VA), you could make a successful career out of helping people and businesses with data entry, social media management, website maintenance, research, customer service and more. One day, you might be helping a small business set up their social media accounts; the next, you could be researching travel destinations.
Full-time VA and owner of TheOnlineVirtualAssistant.com, Nica Mandigma, says she’s seen opportunities for VAs grow over the past six years. “I get inquiries now more than ever. And I do not see the demand abating anytime soon,” she explains. “VAs will be in demand as long as people look for more ways to balance their work and personal lives.”

How to Find Work as a VA

The most important step to finding work as a freelance virtual assistant probably won’t surprise you: networking.
“I always recommend telling people you’re a VA — especially at networking events,” says part-time VA Tatiana Christian. “[Try] joining an entrepreneurial community… and the obvious: setting up a blog where you talk about being a VA.”
Mandigma agrees, adding, “Make sure you have good presence on social media. I found my ideal clients through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. It also pays to read and comment on blogs about virtual assistants and outsourcing because many people who read those posts are the ones that need virtual assistants.”
In other words, the skills you need to obtain work as a VA are the same ones you need to perform the job: organization and great communication.

Where to Find Work as a VA

Want to try your hand at working as a VA? Here are eight of the most popular websites for finding clients:

1. Elance/oDesk

These companies have always been similar, and they merged in late 2013. On each site, prospective clients post their needs and then sit back while hungry freelancers “bid” on a chance to work for them.
While this strategy may work well for certain professions, Tatiana Christian suggests that VAs use caution, stating, “I hate bidding sites. People only use those sites to get really good help for very little money.” Mandigma agrees, saying, “I still have a profile [on oDesk] but do not use it at all because bidding for jobs takes a lot of time. I would rather focus on marketing myself through my blog and social media.”

2. TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit specializes in connecting people locally; however, they’re now offering limited “remote” work, much of which is perfect for a VA.
If you’re over 21 and live in a city mentioned in TaskRabbit’s directory, apply to research, vacation-planning and usability-testing jobs.

3. Craigslist

While Craigslist doesn’t offer any safety net services (such as Elance’s escrow service) to protect freelance VAs from payment risks, it remains one of the most convenient, easy-to-use, sites to look for work. Mandigma names it as one of her personal favorites, but adds, “Just beware of scams!”

4. VANetworking.com

VANetworking.com is a social network and forum for VAs founded by a VA. About half the posts are from VAs swapping tips, and the other half are from potential customers sharing jobs.

5. WAHM.com

Also recommended by Mandigma, WAHM.com provides a job board for remote workers. And although “WAHM” stands for Work At Home Moms, they cater to everyone, regardless of gender or whether you have kids.

6. PeoplePerHour

PPH is well-recognized as one of the most reputable job sites for freelancers. Simply name your services, set your hourly rate and wait for customers to come to you. Or, you can search for clients who need your services and submit an (hourly) proposal.

7. Zirtual

The youngest site on this list, Zirtual used to be “invitation only” for both clients and VAs, but as of January, they’ve opened their virtual doors to the public.
Zirtual works as an agency for VAs, assigning them to clients. They pay a minimum of $10 an hour for part-time work; however, they only accept applications from United States residents.

8. HireMyMom.com

Recommended by Entrepreneur‘s Lisa Druxman, HireMyMom caters only to work-at-home mothers. Mandigma added that, although she’s heard nothing but good things about their services, “you need to pay if you want to become a member of HireMyMom. I was discouraged [from joining] because I didn’t have that kind of money when I was starting out six years ago.” It’s the only paid site on this list.
Your Turn: Have you considered working as a VA? Which of these sites would you use?
Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of LittleZotz Writing. Through her website, Lauren helps small businesses bring their brands to life through written content; and she also helps fellow writers get started as freelancers via weekly blog posts, bi-monthly newsletters, free e-books, and one-on-one mentoring.

 


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