Every Virtual Assistant needs to find clients, but unless you come from a marketing background, you’ve probably never promoted yourself before. In fact, the thought of marketing may even make you feel a bit anxious. People can only hire you if they know you exist so here are 40 ways to market your VA business to get you started.
How to market your Virtual Assistant business
1) Network your socks off
A great way to get the word out about what you do is to go out and meet people face to face. Networking will raise your profile in your local business community and people often refer clients to you later.
If there aren’t any good networking events in your area then consider starting your own!
Not confident when it comes to networking events or if BNI is worth it? Then check out my post on how to network like a pro.
2) Attend your target market’s industry events
If you have a specific target client (such as the events industry for example), rock up at their trade shows, expos and conferences with your business card. You’ll be the only VA in a room full of your ideal client!
3) Join Meetup.com
I know many freelancers who have landed clients through social events. People who hike, walk their dog or attend book clubs and coffee afternoons run businesses too – or if they don’t they usually know people who do!
Just the very act of being around other people and talking about what you do will lead to opportunities and Meetup.com is a really good way of finding both business and social events in your area.
4) Get some snazzy business cards
Design some stylish business cards that create a bit of interest and consider creating a strapline that will start a discussion. You could additionally create a QR code in Canva, but you always have a physical business card on you too.
Here’s my post on common business mistakes and how to avoid them.
5) Tap your professional network
Contact past and present colleagues, tell them that you’re now a VA (and what that is!) and ask 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.
If you’re not sure what to write, you’ll find an email template in my Prospect Emails Doc which you can find here on my Downloads and Training page.
6) Arrange to meet your 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 haven’t met half of them in real life.
So, aim to arrange two face-to-face meetings each week – Friday afternoons are perfect. People love talking about their business so ask your contacts if you can buy them coffee to find out more about their business and the challenges they face.
People do business with (or recommend) people they know, people they like and people they trust so approach these meetings with a view to making connections and friends rather than a marketing opportunity.
7) 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 VA Course as well as my Guide on How to Get Clients.
Many trainees on my DIY VA course have landed clients just by having and using an excellent LinkedIn profile so it really does work.
In fact, if you’re not getting work from LinkedIn then you’re definitely doing it wrong.
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.
8) Run a Google/Bing Adwords campaign
I’ve had some good results with Adwords in the past but it really helps if you know who your ideal client is so you can target specific demographics and use specific keywords.
Make sure you thoroughly understand how to use Adwords though, because it’s more complicated than it looks. Oh, and keep an eye on the total spend figure because Google sometimes masks how much they’re charging you.
9) Run a Facebook/Insta ad
Again, you need to research, know your target client 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 what challenges they face.
Facebook ads are far cheaper than Google Adwords and, as they are both owned by Meta, you can get your ad in front of really specific audiences on Facebook and Instagram.
10) Run a Twitter ad
Twitter ads are awesome because you can put your ad in front of people who follow specific Twitter accounts.
If your target market is 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.
11) Run a LinkedIn ad
Use LinkedIn’s B2B advertising platform to target professionals who might need your services. As with other social media platforms, LinkedIn has many tutorials on how to run an effective ad campaign.
If you have zero time to write, then I wouldn’t bother blogging but it’s great for SEO and a good way to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and expertise.
Not sure what to write about? Here are 100 example blog post titles to get you started.
13) Write case studies
I have a few of these on my website but you can also add case studies to your LinkedIn profile. Case studies give potential clients an idea of how you work and demonstrate your ability to deliver results.
You can also link to industry-specific case studies in your prospect emails.
Read my post Do VAs Need a Blog and What Should They Write About? to find out more and learn how to write a case study.
14) Guest blog
You could also write for other blogs as a way to gain exposure to new audiences. These organisations should ideally be within your target market.
15) Take part in a workshop, panel discussion or talk
Consider holding or contributing to local/online workshops, panels or talks related to your services and areas of expertise.
When I first started out, I took part in a local business workshop with around 20 attendees and talked about how social media could be used to promote a business. I thought it would be daunting but it was actually really fun.
16) Print posters and flyers
Make eye-catching posters and/or flyers in Canva, send the designs to your local print shop and then place them where your target market might be.
These locations could include coworking spaces, serviced offices, community boards, conferences, trade shows, exhibitions and other industry-specific events.
17) Pimp your email signature
Design an eye-catching signature. Include your social media icons and website URL and consider adding a tagline so people know what you do.
My VA email signature (that I created in Canva) says I’m an ‘Anti-Chaos Technician’ which always generates a lot of positive comments.
Many Vas say their first client was actually their previous or current employer.
18) Tap your social network
Tell all your friends and family what you’re doing, and 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.
19) Scout online job boards
Look at companies advertising part-time admin jobs and suggest a virtual solution instead. They may never have heard of a VA before and the lack of associated employee costs (pension, holiday, maternity and sick pay etc) might appeal.
20) Pimp your car
You could even consider advertising on your own car. A traditional VA I know has done this very successfully with her car and people always know who she is!
21) Submit your business for an award
This is not only a great way to get recognition for your work but having “Nominated For VA of The Year” or “VA of The Year Finalist” on your website and social media profiles looks pretty impressive and will set you apart from the crowd.
22) Answer questions on LinkedIn and Facebook 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 you’ll quickly get on people’s radars. They’ll appreciate your generosity and will check out your profile.
My VA actually gets all of her clients from Facebook groups.
23) Contact people you want to work with
This is actually how I get all of my own work. Instead of waiting for clients to come to me, I decide who I want to work with and then I research, qualify, connect and contact them directly.
I honed this method over a number of years and it works so well that I now don’t use any other technique. I turned this into a step-by-step guide that you can find here.
24) Be active in online forums
As with groups, participate in forums like Reddit, Quora, and niche-specific forums and answer questions related to your areas of expertise or your target market’s industry.
25) Create a Google Business Profile (Previously called Google My Business)
If someone types in “admin support (name of your town)” Google will list you near the top of the page if you have one of their free dedicated Business Profiles.
26) Add your business to online directories
Although you may receive a number of sales calls from the directory asking you to place a paid ad, a free listing in the directory will help to improve your SEO and may lead to enquiries.
Remember to update each site if and when your services change and always ask people how they found you so you know which site is working for you.
27) Join your local Chamber of Commerce or Federation of Small Business
Not only are these groups full of potential clients, but they also offer lots of networking events, talks and training sessions that will benefit your business.
Don’t forget to claim the membership fee as a business expense!
28) Use social media
Use platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter to share your work and engage with potential clients.
Make sure you have a marketing strategy before you create any content and pick one or two platforms where your target market hangs out.
29) Exhibit at trade shows and exhibitions
This one can be expensive but effective. Having (or even sharing) a trade stand at a business event – especially one in your target client’s industry – is a good way to get in front of other business owners.
30) Optimise your website
Known as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Optimising your website for search engines such as Google and Bing will increase your organic traffic and improve visibility.
SEO is quite a skill so look for free YouTube videos on how to do it.
31) Collaborate with other freelancers
Befriend other freelancers – especially those who serve a similar demographic and create a symbiotic relationship. For example, web developers are sometimes asked by their clients if they know proofreaders or copywriters.
Just knowing other freelancers will lead to work because their clients will often mention that they’re struggling and need a hand.
32) Frequent coworking spaces
Coworking spaces are a great place to meet other business owners. I even know a VA who was hired by the owner of the space to help run it!
Coworking spaces are not only a business expense but you will find their events equally as beneficial as the networking opportunities. I used to head to my local coworking space on Friday afternoons just so I could chat and learn from the other freelancers there.
After being a member of a local coworking space for 4 years, the owner approached me to be her VA, and now she’s my biggest client! I kinda couldn’t believe it at the time because I didn’t even get many clients from that space — I just liked using it for the networking and having a place outside my home to work from. But there you go — you never know where such opportunities might arise! 😁
33) Post an ad in a local community guide or directory
While I haven’t personally had any success with this method, everything is worth trying once and they must work or else people wouldn’t advertise.
34) Place ads in your target market’s trade mags
As always, you need to focus on your target market 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.
35) Write a press release
Learn how to write press releases about what you do and then send them to local media outlets. There are many books and YouTube videos on how to do this.
36) Get on the radio
Similar to the above suggestion, local radio stations are a great opportunity to talk about what you do. I was interviewed by my local station when I first started out and some of my trainees have done so too.
37) Ask your clients for referrals
If you already have clients consider encouraging them to refer you to other small business owners they know. Be sure to tell them what a new client’s rate would be though as they often tell their friend their rate which might not be your current rate.
You could offer them an incentive for recommending you or simply just ask!
38) Write an article for your target market’s go-to publications or websites
This should always be a solution-based article. It could be something generic such as platforms and tools that will help them work better or how to better or it could be a more industry-specific challenge and how it can be solved or optimised.
39) Leave tips and advice on industry-specific forums and blog posts
People use forums to find answers so be there to solve their problems. As above, if you share what you know and provide solutions (which is what a VA does for a living!), people will want to connect with you because they see you as valuable.
40) Outsource it!
If you don’t have the time or enough expertise to market your business yourself, you could always consider outsourcing it to a professional.
If you don’t have the funds for this, consider a skills swap with someone with a background in marketing who is just starting out as a freelancer. They help you market your business and you help them get their systems in order.
Additional Marketing Tips
Always ask new enquiries where they heard of you so you can perfect and repeat the marketing activities that work and stop doing anything that doesn’t
Try to keep in mind that people don’t really care about you, they just want to know what’s in it for them. So you will need to focus on being useful and providing value.
Before you run any Google or social media ads, be sure to extensively research how to do them and make the most of them. They can be a money pit if you don’t know what you’re doing or who you are targeting.
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 in front of your target market.
Wanna sort your marketing once and for all?
Marketing is simple once you understand how it works because the principles remain the same even when the platform changes.
So, once you have learned the principles of marketing you’ll always know how to find clients. Result!