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 I first started as a VA I read that I should have a niche – but I had no idea what it could be so I didn’t do anything except look for work and earn money. My website said I offered admin support and that was that – I took what I was offered.
After a while I noticed that I found certain tasks more enjoyable than others and that some worked for me more than others. They fitted around other jobs and were either extremely interesting or quite easy so I could mix and match them all and give my brain a rest.
I also liked tasks that didn’t need me to be in front of my laptop all day as I wanted to be 100% virtual.
I knew I didn’t much like doing expenses as they were a bit of a faff, but that I loved social media and research tasks as they played on my personal interests. I also noticed that I was also helping people with more ‘techie tasks’ like Gmail, syncing things and using online tools and apps.
People said they knew by my Tweets and blog posts that I ‘knew my stuff’ so would come to me for advice.
I still didn’t think I had a niche though…
One day I noticed all my clients were consultants and freelancers so I then defined myself as someone who offered support to those types of people.
Later, after taking on even more different types of tasks, my niche narrowed as I discovered I preferred ‘projects’ instead of regular work that tied me to a set routine and that I particularly loved doing research and analysis for Social Media Consultants and Digital Marketers.
So that became my new niche.
Making that connection provided me with a target market who I could then actively seek out. I could now target them directly rather than accept any enquiry that came my way.
Discovering my niche changed my career.
So although I found my niche in the end, I set up my business and happily earned money for quite a while just doing admin stuff without having a particular speciality or niche. Then I got one. Then I changed it and then I changed it yet again.
And, although everything worked out fine in the end, if I’d found my niche sooner, I could have made much more money and had happier, more fulfilling work.
There are many different types of Virtual Assistants
I know an extremely busy ‘traditional’ VA who isn’t particularly virtual at all as she goes to company offices to take minutes – she is the only woman in the area who knows how to do this and she has more work offering this one service than she can handle.
I know another VA who specialises in e-publishing and Kindle work and loves working for chaotic creative women, I know another one who solely works for the creative industries and I know another one who sets up techie course delivery stuff for online coaches.
If I get enquiries for tasks that I don’t know how to do (or don’t like doing) then I refer them to a more suitable VA and they do the same. The thought of disorganised messy creative types brings me out in a cold sweat actually *shudders* so I don’t take them on as clients because I know I’ll be unhappy after a while.
So one size does NOT fit all and you don’t have to decide on your niche now but finding it will make your entire business better.
You actually already have a niche
Unless you’ve never worked a day in your life then you already have a speciality niche but you just can’t see it.
Your niche could be the services you offer, the types of clients you work for, or the industry you work in – or a combination of all of them!
How to work out your niche
- Look at your existing skill set and what industries you’ve worked in.
- Think about what you know how to do, what you do best, what you like doing (this is REALLY important – nobody leaves their job to do work they hate), and what you want to keep doing.
- Then think about who would want those skills.
Look at your career history and skills and target people in that area. If your background is HR, medicine or education (for example) then look at other people such as third party consultants or contractors who also serve your industry.
Most people get work through people they already know so that’s definitely the best place to start.
Example: I have a friend called Kate who by definition is a VA, yet she doesn’t even have a website nor does she market herself online. She has plenty of work because her sister is a doctor who one day asked Kate to type up her notes for her.
The other doctors found out about this and Kate now does a couple of hours work each night when her children are asleep. She doesn’t need a website, a business card or to market herself because she has loads of work coming in.
So Kate got work through people she already knew.
Also, remember that your speciality/niche isn’t usually the only service you offer, but is in addition to general admin and business support services.
Suck it and see then adapt
It’s vital that you remain open to changes so you can adapt as your career progresses. I could never do what I do now when I first left my job as I didn’t have the skill set. I had a personal interest in social media and over time I learned more and tweaked my business, services and target client as I went along.
You might find that a client shows you how to do a new task such as newsletters, SEO or blogging for example, you might then discover you’re amazing at it and you love doing it and BOOM! you’ve suddenly got a whole new skill set and possibly a new niche.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a niche straight away and don’t wait until you’ve decided on one before you get going or you’ll never start. But having a speciality means you’ll be seen by potential clients and other VAs as the go-to person in that field and that definitely leads to better and more enjoyable work.
My DIY VA course trainees and other people in the VA Handbookers Facebook group are always telling me that as soon as they found a niche for themselves, it opened up their career in ways they hadn’t expected.
Resources and action
* My popular, fail-proof 3-part series shows you exactly how to use your CV to work out your skills, niche, services and who could hire you. This series also makes up the first part of the DIY VA course which is how I know it works!
* Read some of my interviews with established VAs to see how they got started and how they decided on their niche.
* Read my post on the 3 best ways to find your first client.
* Stop dreaming about becoming a Virtual Assistant and actually make it happen!