I’ve been a freelancer for a while now, people are constantly emailing me their questions and worries about becoming a Virtual Assistant, and my trainees also admit their fears about working for themselves. But although I reckon I’ve now heard pretty much every mindset stumbling block under the sun, I’ve still not found one reason why someone shouldn’t set up their own business. Here are the main worries I hear and why they shouldn’t hold you back.
On Wednesday 10th June 2009 I left my job to become a full time freelancer. I wish I could say that I screamed “UP YOURS LOSERS!!” as I waved to my previous employers (without using all my fingers) whilst sprinting for the door with the contents of the stationery cupboard, but I didn’t. Instead I quietly walked out of the gates into the unknown.
At the end of the day, the main thing every potential and new VA wants to know is “where do I get clients?”. Because this is the question on the lips of every freelancer and something I discuss in every single training session, I thought I’d share the three most successful methods I’ve found of how to fish for and land your first client.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Michelle Gibson. UK-based Michelle lives in the small village of Measham in the East Midlands, and initially started her business in 2011 when she became a freelance administrator. She now runs Gibson VA and has a fascinating niche because she actually provides creative support to other VAs!
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Sam Cook. Sam has just celebrated her two year anniversary of being a VA and lives in Geelong near Melbourne, Australia. She has a 4 year old son (who’s a tornado of energy, questions, and chatter – just like his mum apparently!) and an insatiable travel bug. Sam will be off to Mexico shortly to work with The Hunger Project Australia and get some new projects and leadership training off the ground. This is her VA story.
Annoyingly, you will regularly be contacted by people who have absolutely no idea what they want you to do. They know they need help, but they’re often so busy they can’t think straight and really aren’t sure of the best way to use you. You obviously need to fix this or you won’t end up doing any work for them at all!
Although Pinterest is the third most popular social media platform, a lot of people still think it’s just a load of women planning their ideal wedding and designing an imaginary dream home. Although it kind of is (guilty!), like many think Twitter is just folk talking about what they had for lunch, Pinterest is way more than that and can be used in many different ways depending on who’s using it and why.
Writing LinkedIn profiles isn’t just something I used to do as part of my CV writing business, social media is also my VA niche and I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn researching and assessing profiles and groups for social media consultants and marketers. LinkedIn is a massive subject, but one of the things I want to share with you is how to effectively connect and then start conversations with those new connections.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Ditte de Voss who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark with her boyfriend and French bulldog Otto. Providing branding and online marketing services, Ditte only set up her business this year but is already successful and has some great advice to potential VAs about the start-up phase. This is her VA story:
A good VA service to offer is credit control – i.e. chasing invoice payments. You might initially shudder at the thought of calling strangers to chase money, but it’s actually completely painless if you know what to say. A lot of small businesses and freelancers like to outsource this task because it creates a buffer between them and the other company – plus it makes them look more professional if someone else is doing the calling for them.
Simply put, an “elevator pitch” is how you would deliver a summary of your product, business or service to someone during a short elevator ride. It’s not a sales pitch, it basically explains who you are, what you do, who you do it for and why someone might want this – but delivered in a nutshell. It’s really useful to have an elevator pitch for speaking to people at networking meetings, so let me show you exactly how to write one.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Geniece Brown. Geniece set up her business in 2012 and officially launched her company Brown Virtual Assisting LLC in early 2014. She was born in Texas, raised in Mississippi and currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and two children. This is her Virtual Assistant story.
Twitter was completely invaluable when it came to setting up my business. I used to dash home from my stressful job, sit on my bed and spend hours just soaking up information. Twitter took me to places I never knew existed and now I even get work from it. It’s a slow burner so don’t expect results straight away, but I’ve been hired through it a number of times so I must be doing something right!
When I first started out I had the most basic of websites (and in West Ham football colours I later discovered!) but I needed people to come to it so they could see how amazing I was and hire me. I had no clue about SEO or marketing, my old Developer had created the site in Dreamweaver which I think went out with the dinosaurs, I had no niche, no clue about what I was doing and nobody knew where to find me. So how did I get traffic to my website?
Your website is pretty important. It acts as a ‘shop window’ for your business and if it’s really shonky then potential clients will think you’re really shonky too. I’ve seen some truly shocking VA websites, so read my post, find out if yours might be one of them, then calmly but quickly log in to your site and tart it up immediately!
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Michelle Rødgaard-Jessen. Michelle is Danish but has lived and worked in various different countries including Spain, Morocco, Brazil and Chile since she became a freelancer in August 2014. She is therefore the first (but hopefully not the last) Digital Nomad to be featured on my site. This is her VA story.
Another popular question from new VAs is what services they should offer their clients. Obviously this will depend on lots of things such as demand, your niche, your skill set, your interests, your work history and your location, but here’s 30 services you can consider providing to start you off.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Nikki Ince. Nikki is the owner of Willow Admin, a Virtual Assistant company based in North Stifford in Essex. She initially only provided onsite admin support to local businesses but went fully virtual in 2013 and now provides admin and social media support to small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is her VA story.
I really like telling you guys how to set up and become Virtual Assistants but I realised recently that it might be nice if you knew a bit more about me. So after racking my brain for an inordinate amount of time and deleting some rather incriminating and over-shary details, this is what I’ve come up with… don’t judge me!
Many of you are still in the research stage and finding out whether this whole VA thing is something you want to do, but if you definitely know you want to be a Virtual Assistant and are still in the process of setting up and getting ready to launch whilst in full-time work, there are many things you can do to get ready. Here are just some of them: