Most freelancers will tell you that working for yourself is brilliant and will bring you freedom like you won’t believe. But what they often won’t tell you is that it’s also often confusing, scary, frustrating and stressful. Existing freelancers will hopefully read this article, laugh and nod their heads with recognition – and new freelancers will get an insight into what’s coming!
I don’t make websites for a living so I’m not going to go into detail about every single tiny thing you need to have a decent site, I’m just going to provide an overview of the different things you need to think about when you’re setting up a Virtual Assistant website. And although many VAs get work via their LinkedIn profile alone, having a website to act as your shop window will only help your business in the long run.
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:
Like August, December can often be a quiet time for VAs. Your clients are usually winding down for Christmas themselves and, although it’s great to have a couple of weeks off, if you spend some time during the gap between Christmas and New Year (I think it’s called Twixtmas but I call it Chrimbo Limbo) putting your house in order, you’ll start the coming year way ahead of the game.
I know that setting up your own Virtual Assistant business seems like hard work so I’m very sorry to tell you that it’s actually the easy part. Being a successful VA isn’t simply helping someone with their admin or supporting their business, it’s knowing how to manage people. And, from listening to feedback from my clients and new enquiries, a lot of VAs are woefully lacking in the right skills.
An ongoing debate amongst freelancers is whether or not you should display your rates on your website. Although not everyone agrees and I have my own fixed opinion on the matter, I want to outline the pros and cons of both arguments as well as address common concerns so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
So now I’ve covered how to set your rates, how to track time spent on client tasks, how to avoid time-wasting clients and how and when to fire a client, it’s time to tell you how to invoice a client so they can pay you! This is how to set up easy standard ways of invoicing so you can just do the work and bill your client without any stress, worry or confusion.
One of my readers recently sent me an email suggesting I write a post on how to qualify a new client. Only two weeks into her new career, she’s already encountered a complete time-waster and wanted to share her experience in order to prevent others having the same experience. This is what she told me:
Because Outlook is a crusty old dinosaur, I use Gmail as my one-stop email account. I import five other accounts into it (three of my own plus two that clients have set up for me) and I switch between all the Gmail accounts from my inbox by granting myself user access from the others. Nobody knows everything is going through Gmail and I get to use all the fantastic features that come with it – one of which is the phenomenal wonder-bomb Rapportive.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Becky Considine. After many years high level administrative experience and working as a PA and EA within the NHS, Becky decided to re-evaluate her career after having her second daughter. She runs her business from Oxford, England and launched OXVAS (Oxford Virtual Assistant Service) at the end of 2013.
I’m one of those annoying freaks who has loads of confidence. I just bowl in there and get on with stuff and it never occurs to me that I won’t be able to do something. I might wonder how but it doesn’t ever enter my head that I can’t. I fully appreciate this is weird and unusual behaviour and that most people need a bit of a push to get out of their comfort zones. So, because I think being a VA is amazing and will make you incredibly happy, today I’m going to give you a really hard shove.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Lakisha Sarbah who is the founding Executive Director of Uniquely Coordinated, LLC. Lakisha is fortunate enough to live in two different US states, spending the winter months in Atlanta, Georgia and the summer at her home in Alabama. Lakisha started her VA business in March 2009 and this is her VA story.
Testimonials are important for Virtual Assistants because people are way more likely to hire you if they can see you come recommended – so a testimonial page or a WordPress quote rotator widget as I have on my own PA site is vital if you want to show how good you are. But how do you get testimonials when you’re just starting out and haven’t done any work yet?
This is a Virtual Assistant case study on MOI! You can read a bit about me here but this is the story about how I became a VA, what I did before I went freelance, how I manage clients and what I’d do differently if I had to start again. I set up Munro PA Services at the end of 2008 and I live in sunny Brighton in an apartment full of shoes, wine and cake.
One of the questions I get asked the most is “when should I leave my job to solely focus on being a Virtual Assistant?”. Although there’s as many answers to that question as people asking it, in all honesty it boils down to one simple thing:
When you have enough clients.
You think you might want to be a Virtual Assistant but you’re not too sure what’s involved so you’re having a scout about online to find out more? Well working for yourself is extremely hard work so it really is very important to know what you’re letting yourself in for. So let me tell you what it’s like to be a freelancer and you can decide for yourself if it’s something you’re cut out for.
A while back I was talking to a woman who was thinking about becoming a Virtual Assistant. She’d contacted me for advice because she was unsure of her options and wanted to know what being a VA was like. She said: “I’m quite confused as to what to do at the moment. Full time work is a safe option but the hours are too long for me now and I’m trying to run a part-time business too. I need help to figure out the best route and direction for me.”
Although I believe every Virtual Assistant should have a niche, I know it’s not always quite that easy. Having a specialised area of expertise certainly makes you known as the ‘go-to’ person and leads to more work, but when you first start out how on earth do you decide what your VA niche should even be?
When you first start out as a Virtual Assistant, you’ll need to have a good think about what services you want to provide. If you’ve already decided on your niche then you’ll know exactly what your chosen target market needs doing but, if you’re like I was when I first started and you haven’t, here’s a few things to think about that might help you work it out.
So you’ve decided to go ahead and become a Virtual Assistant. You know who your target market is, what services you’re going to offer and you’re all ready to get going… all you need now is to decide what to call your business. Of course, this is easier said than done! So how exactly do you decide on your company name?