Virtual Assistants – Fourth step in this series of 10 steps for virtual assistants, providing tips to establish a roster of satisfied clients and set yourself up as a successful virtual assistant, doing what makes you happy and your clients happy!  (To begin at the first step in this series, click here.)

Of note: This particular series of articles is written from a perspective of someone who is currently a virtual assistant or has the specific skills to become one, and would like to add or obtain new or additional clients.  If you are interested in being a virtual assistant but would like training or instruction, we will be adding additional resources and sites where training can be obtained, as well as sites where you can register yourself as a virtual assistant available for hire.

Finding Clients For Your Virtual Assistant Business Online

You started your virtual assistant business because you love the idea of working online whenever it suits you, without having to dress up and work in a cubicle.  Good for you!  It’s a great business and it’s very rewarding. Your first challenge in this business, however, is going to be finding clients.

Finding clients online is a great way to build your business. It should be used in combination with finding clients offline for best results, but you can still get good results using a few methods that we’ll discuss in this article.

First of all, you need to prepare your business before you go looking for clients online. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. A completed website.  Telling people to hire you simply won’t be enough.  You’ll need to have a website up that sells people on your services and why they should hire you.  You need to stand out from the crowd and relay that you know your stuff.  Take the time and effort to put together a great website to present to potential clients.  If you don’t know how to build your own website, then take a course or hire someone to build it for you… it’s that important.  The good news is that there are a LOT of extremely easy resources for putting a great looking website together, literally in a matter of hours.  My personal suggestion?  Use a WordPress-based website.  You can use WordPress for free, or purchase a theme for very little, it’s generally very easy to use, there is a LOT of support available online if you do need some help, and there are a lot of extremely easy ways to customize your site that are totally free!  (Click Here for WordPress.org information.)

2. A client process.  What if you find someone who wants to hire you?  Do you know what to do next?  Make sure you plan out a process of how you will accept and retain clients once they are interested in your services.  It would be a very good idea to write this process out to hand over to your new clients so they know exactly what to expect as they start working with you (clients love that).

Once you’re ready for clients you now need to get out there and hustle.  Here are some places online to look for new clients:

Email – Don’t underestimate the power of writing a personal email to any and all contacts you have.  You can ask them if they need to hire your services and/or if they know anyone who would like to hire you.  Depending on your relationship, it may be best to ask them if they know anyone first and they may end up replying that they actually need your help instead.  Forums – Online forums are not dead.  In fact, some niche topics have forums that are still extremely active.  My recommendation is to pick a couple of paid forum membership sites that are active and build long-term relationships there.  This has paid off for a friend of mine in so many different ways with the two membership forums that she is an active participant in.

Social Media – Social media is definitely the buzz word these days in online marketing. It is a place where you can find clients but ultimately it’s got to be your ‘thing’. If you’re not into social media then social media won’t be into you.  If you’re not like that then there’s no point forcing it.  HOWEVER, you can definitely find courses available, books available, coaching programs and other tutorials that may be able to give you a feeling of comfort using social media, and before you know it — it WILL become second nature!  It also takes time.  Give yourself time to get used to it AND to build up relationships!  Social media is like being the new kid in school or the new employee joining the company — if you view it in that way, start out slow by being friendly, but not rush in like a bull charging, the next thing you know, you’ll be part of the “cool kids” or the employee everybody wants to go to lunch with!  Also, you may like one of the social medias and not another, or your business may be more successful on one than another.  So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater–if you don’t like Twitter, it doesn’t mean you won’t like Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Pinterest, etc.  But give it a chance, obviously it’s not going to hurt anything, doesn’t cost anything, and is very simple to set up.

One of my biggest tips about social media:  If it seems like you’ve walked into a foreign country, well–why wouldn’t it?  In a way it is.  Find some people you want to watch and learn from, these could be other virtual assistants, websites catering to virtual assistants or clients that you may want to attract.  Check it daily, look at what is being posted, take a look around when you’re in there, get comfortable just with the layout and the way others are using it.  When you feel comfortable, make a tweet or post or comment, etc.  Something you feel comfortable with and I wouldn’t recommend posting right away, or not at least with your first post, is that you are looking for clients or trying to “sell something” (although you can definitely put that kind of information in your profile!)  From that first tweet or post, get comfortable, be part of the community, reply or comment on other people’s tweets or posts, follow/add people, and start to build relationships.

Advertising – There are so many ways you can get your business in front of a large amounts of traffic if you use advertising.  Find websites that are highly respected and that are not loaded with spammy looking ads. Virtual Assistant Forums & Websites – There are a number of virtual assistant forums and websites that you can join.  It’s a good idea to be a part of these and build relationships with other virtual assistants. VAs often refer each other out or work together when a client has a need that one can’t fill. Use this to your advantage.

Well, I hope you have a few ideas to get you started with marketing your Virtual Assistant business online. Remember it’s all about a constant flow of marketing in order to get the right clients (and their testimonials and referrals) finding their way to you. Think of it as an ongoing process, always be marketing and over time you’ll see the rewards for your efforts.