As with August, December is often a quiet time of the year for VAs. Clients are winding down for Christmas themselves and, while it’s great to have a couple of weeks off, if you invest a little time during the gap between Christmas and New Year (Twixtmas / Chrimbo Limbo) putting your house in order, you’ll start the new year fresh and ahead of the game.
Things you can do in December to get ahead of the game
Here are a few things you can do now to ensure you’re primed and ready for when it all kicks off again in January.
When you’ve been in business for a while it can be easy to let your own business admin slide but I promise that anything you do now will stand you in good stead later on.
1 – Review and update your social media profiles
If you’re on social media then take a look at each platform and make sure they’re all up to date and looking good.
- Check your bio accurately reflects what you NOW do.
- Add any new skills you’ve picked up or platforms you can now use.
- Check your contact details are up to date and that links are working.
- Review your profile photo and make sure it still looks like you. Check it displays well on mobile devices and that it’s the same across all platforms and on your website. This is important for brand recognition and consistency.
- Review your contacts. Cull like crazy and then categorise and tag them. You should connect strategically so consider unfollowing anyone who isn’t a prospect.
2 – Review and update your website
Now is a good time to:
- Add a WordPress broken link checker plugin or run your URL through a free online broken link checker – then fix any broken links, obvs.
- Add the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to make sure your website is completely optimised for search.
- Update pages and posts and optimise them for SEO. You may my article on whether Virtual Assistants need a blog useful.
- Check the links in your website’s social media icons.
- Review your cookie and privacy policies. I sell website policies if you need them. They were written by an international contracts lawyer and are updated and resent to buyers any time the law changes.
- Add your site to Google Analytics to see how people are finding you and to Google Search Console to tell Google you exist and check the health of your site.
- Your ‘About Me’ page will be one of your most popular landing pages so make sure yours is engaging and up to date.
- Add strategic testimonials to attract your target client. If you don’t have many then just break them down into snippets and add them to a quote rotator widget in the sidebar.
3 – Sort your LinkedIn profile out
People use LinkedIn solely to do business and if you’re not getting any leads from it then you’re definitely doing something wrong! Here are a few LinkedIn tasks you can do in December.
- Check your skill set is up to date.
- Update your profile section and headline. Here’s how to write a great LinkedIn profile along with some headline examples.
- Add media to the Featured section. This section is prime real estate so be sure to use it.
- Ensure the “people also viewed” section is turned off so prospects aren’t shown your competition. Here’s how to do that.
- Add case studies and any rich media that will enhance your profile.
- Update the skills section.
- Request recommendations.
- Create a personalised “vanity” URL.
- If you also have a company page (you need one in order for LinkedIn to pull the logo into your personal profile) review your services, hours and other information.
- Basically, go through every section on LinkedIn and make sure it’s up to date and looks the shizz!
4 – Request testimonials
The end of the year is a great time to check you have up-to-date testimonials from everyone you have worked with.
When you ask for a testimonial tell the client what you’d like them to say.
Often people just mention how lovely and friendly you are (especially if you’re a woman) but a testimonial saying how efficient and organised you are and how much value you have added to a business is far more useful.
Ideally, you should request testimonials via LinkedIn because you can take testimonial from LinkedIn and add it to your website but you can’t take a testimonial given via email and add it to your LinkedIn profile.
(Well, you can but only by putting it onto a PDF and uploading that – which isn’t ideal.)
Many people find it hard to know what to write in a testimonial and this is often the reason they may not reply to your request. If this happens then just write one for them to edit.
I show you how to do this in my blog post on how to get testimonials when you’re just starting out.
5 – Do your expenses
Boring as hell but expenses need to be collated so taxes can be paid and you don’t go to prison. So pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and collate them ready to submit your self-assessment tax return online by the Jan 31st deadline.
I have a post on everything UK VAs need to know about tax and national insurance here.
6 – Learn new skills
Use this time to pick up a new skill because more skills = more work = more money.
There are loads of free and paid training courses listed on my Downloads and Training page and I also have a post on free (and low-cost) learning resources for Virtual Assistants.
7 – Set goals
If you know exactly what you want then you’re far more likely to get it.
So instead of saying “I want to earn more money next year”, decide how much you want to earn, and then break that down into the number of billable hours you’ll need to work to achieve it.
As there are only so many billable hours in a day, there could be a particular service you could package up and sell instead of increasing your hours.
My pricing course covers many next-level income strategies to help you earn more money – without working more hours.
8 – Cull your contact list
Now is a great time to slash and burn through your address book.
- Check everyone’s details are up to date.
- Add notes on where and when you met them.
- Group or label your contacts (friends, clients, ex-clients, prospects, met networking etc).
- Export your LinkedIn connections and import them into your address book.
- Brutally cull anyone you don’t recognise!
9 – Set up one-to-one meetings
I bet there are loads of social media, business or networking connections you’ve not yet met or haven’t seen for ages.
Use this quiet time to set up new year coffee meetings so you can catch up, find out more about their business, ask what they’d like to achieve next year and see whether you can help them.
In-person meetings not only create strong relationships but you’d be surprised at how many mutually-beneficial opportunities arise from seeing people face-to-face.
Remember, “people do business with people they know, people they like and people they trust”.
If you know other VAs in your area then arrange to meet them too. They’re not your competition, they’re a valuable resource because you may be able to refer work to one another and even work together as associates.
10 – Create a flexible working calendar
Working, cooking, cleaning, shopping, school runs… the list of things you have to do in a day is endless. And this is before you even begin to think about the things you might actually want to do such as exercising, socialising, learning a language or setting up a business.
If you’re craving simplicity as well as more space and time to focus on the things that are important to you, I have a flexible working calendar to meet your every demand.
11 – Get your head around Gmail
Aside from using one Gmail inbox as a hub for my business and client accounts, blitzing Gmail accounts (inbox detox) is one of my most popular services.
Many clients have lots of different email accounts and importing them all into one easy-to-manage hub, setting up filters and folders and adding nifty extras such as canned response templates will ensure they love you forever.
My free Gmail course shows you how to do all of this and more.
12 – Clean up folders and storage
As your business grows you’ll find that your online folders start to get unruly. Left unchecked, these become more than visual clutter and will impede your ability to quickly locate important documents.
- Go through every folder and document on your laptop and rename, archive, merge or delete accordingly.
- Do the same with everything in your online storage platforms such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
- Clear out files in your online storage bin to free up more space. Google Drive is far cheaper than Dropbox for a lot more storage so consider switching.
- Do the same with any physical folders such as ones containing paper invoices or business expenses. Either shred or scan anything you no longer want to keep a physical copy of.
- While you’re on a roll, look at every one of your email folders and merge, archive, delete or rename as required.
13 – Filter non-essential emails
This is a great time to set up email filters so those annoying unimportant social media updates and newsletters bypass your inbox.
Better still, unsubscribe, change your settings to amend the frequency or create a new email address solely to receive business emails and updates.
I have a blog post on how to manage emails and multiple email accounts where I show you how I manage my own accounts and how to manage, filter and tag emails is covered in the free Gmail video course I mentioned above.
14 – Create a business contingency plan
Go through all of the “disaster scenario” exercises in my post on how to future-proof your VA business to make sure you’re covered against every eventuality.
Yup, you have my permission to catastrophize!
In the post, I ask you to imagine a series of scenarios along with potential actions you could take. This is to help you create your own personalised business contingency plan so that whatever happens (pandemic anyone?), your business is bulletproof.
15 – Schedule your work life
Go through your online calendar and add anything work-related you can think of. This can include:
- The date and amount of direct debit payments for business expenses such as newsletter, web hosting and accounting platforms.
- Tax return deadlines and the date you should start collating your figures.
- Tax payment dates and amounts (if you know them) including Payment on Account. These dates and deadlines are in my post on everything UK VAs need to know about tax and National Insurance.
- Any networking, conferences or business events you want to attend.
- Additional Bank Holidays – Gmail doesn’t always add every single one especially the ones around seasonal events.
- Client holidays and/or birthdays.
- Any holiday dates you want to take off next year.
16 – Schedule social media
Although you should definitely be using an evergreen scheduler (such as Smarterqueue) to post your core message content, you should also have time-specific content scheduled at least a month in advance.
When I say “time-specific” I’m talking about set calendar dates such as Valentine’s Day, VA Day, National Freelancers Day, Halloween and Christmas, but there are many other ‘Awareness Days’ you can use to create unique stand-out content.
Just Google “Awareness Day websites” and use the results as creative inspiration for your annual social media content.
17 – Assess your marketing
How many new clients did you get this year and how did you get them? Who are your favourite clients and why? Do they have anything in common?
If you know the types of clients you enjoy working with, it’s easy to find more of them.
Take time to analyse your marketing efforts. What type of content did you post and on which platforms? What content performed the best?
Look at your stats to find out which marketing activities worked… and then do more of it!
You can read everything I’ve ever written on how to find work here.
18 – Get more clients
Over time, I’ve perfected the method I use to get clients. Instead of waiting to be contacted by some random, I decide who I want to work with and then I research, qualify and contact them directly.
This method works so well that I don’t use any other method to find work.
Twixmas is the perfect time to apply this method because your ideal client is almost certainly using this time to plan their own year ahead.
They’ll be trying to figure out how to scale their business so they can make more money – and you want to be the perfectly-timed solution!
I wrote my method up as a handy guide if you’re interested.
19 – Assess your rates
As with all freelancers, Virtual assistants should assess their rates every year. The average hourly rate for a UK VA is between £27 – £35 as of the end of 2022.
20 – Evaluate, reflect and plan
Looking at the past year and evaluating what worked and what didn’t will enable you to see what you need to focus on next year.
Once you’re aware of who you like working for and the tasks you enjoy doing, you can adjust your marketing to get more of the same.
I know it’s the holiday season and while you should definitely take some time to chill out, business and technology move fast and it’s rare to get an extended quiet period like December to reflect and get ahead of yourself.
Many VAs prioritise their client’s business over their own but if you neglect your business, it won’t be long before you won’t have one.
But taking time to assess, plan, review and focus on improving your business will ensure you not only become an outstanding Virtual Assistant but also a really wealthy and happy one, too.
Ready to just go for it?
If you’re ready to stop reading and start doing, it’s time to take my DIY VA course and take the first step of your journey.
With lifetime access and an incredible trainee-only support group, I guide you through the entire process and am always on hand to help you. You can even pay in instalments.