The advantages of virtual work as a business are well known!
Working virtually offers you numerous benefits of flexibility and remote work. Plus, it is a lot easier to leverage your unique skill-sets. And yes, technology makes is quite seamless to work with clients and employers in real time.
You might be moving from a corporate job or trying to balance your work and mom life. Or even have an entrepreneurial passion. Whatever be the driver, getting started on a virtual business feels like a challenge to many.
Should you become a Virtual professional? Where should you start, how do you market, is it viable?
How to start your Virtual Assistant business!
These 15 easy and actionable steps will get you started on your new business journey in no time.
Assess your aptitude
Yes, a VA business seems like a winner, but is it really you?
Are you self-motivated? Do you like working online in a ‘non-office’ setting? Are you comfortable with deadlines and repetitive work? Communicating through email/ messaging rather than in-person interactions isn’t a problem for you.
Most VAs work with different clients so it takes a constant adjustment getting used to varied work requirements and personality styles. Plus, like any business, you will be responsible for everything from set up, to marketing, delivery and customer service.
Identify a niche
Figure out where your past experience is and does it translate into virtual and marketable skills?
What do you stand for – is it specialized knowledge or time and efficiency based advantages? In other words, are you selling your expertise or your ability to cut down the work for your clients?
Here’s is another way to look at this. How is your work measurable?
Are you creating new outcomes – fresh content, new designs, documents or even connects.
Or, are you adding to their productivity and time saving? This would include email management, social media posting, website updates.
Write a business plan and outline
This is the basic structure of your business – the ‘what and how’ of your service.
What are your strengths and challenges? Who is your ideal client? Plus, your Marketing plan, how much money you will spend and what you intend to make. Too early? More like how much is your ideal expected monthy income?
Similarly, a sample mission statement / business pitch might be:
To create a Virtual Assistant Business offering high end administrative and tech services to entrepreneurs in the style business.
If you’re looking at working with companies, your summary statement might read something like:
I’m a systems pro and a highly independent Virtual Professional, offering turnkey services in ABC time zone.
Identify your core specialization
You might have a lot of skills – but which ones do you want to offer?
While many see virtual work as being more generalist, having a functional expertise is valuable. This means that you either choose a specialized service like social media management, with a focus on say, Instagram.
Or you bring industry focused insights, e.g. copywriting and content creation for the real estate industry.
Needless to say, it is important to leverage your experience and knowledge but also be open to incorporating something that’s in demand and also excites you. And of course, demand for a type of service is a big driver, so do your homework on that.
Many VAs choose to specialize but also offer a suite of services. Keep in mind that specific jobs for one or two industries this can make your work highly prized in that niche, but it might also limit available work for you.
Evaluate & pick up related skills
Identify where you can ‘skill up’ to be more marketable.
If you are creative writer and offer blogging related services, adding Proofreading to your repertoire might be very helpful. Or if you work with online content creators, learning about a brand portal like Teachable or Kajabi can make you more marketable! From Trello to Asana, Kajabi to Dubsado, research what are your ideal clients are using and invest time in learning them.
Learn, Baby Learn! – Explore these free resources to help you grow
Define your soft skills
Why should clients work with you, personally?
Are you able to connect with people quickly? Do you have great written communication skills? Are you comfortable with technology and willing to learn more?
Join an agency for regular work
Many Entrepreneurs and small companies run VA agencies where you can find work more easily without having to hustle for it. This can add to your experience, both with actual work as well as the pitching process. The payouts may not be very high initially, but that’s offset by steady, sometimes predictable work, while you’re settling in and building a name for yourself.
Start your own gig to set your own prices
When you start your VA business, it lets you command your prices and keep what you earn, without an intermediary. You can also stand out in your niche, as well as upsize your services. A lot of virtual professionals who started out managing social media tasks have now begun offer more strategic services, like campaign management, social media audits etc. They based the value-added services on the experience they amassed on the way, and this also lets them command higher prices and project based gigs.
Build your website
Having an online home for your business not only helps your customers find you and learn more about your offerings and prices, over time it also helps you with organic traffic. A key question a lot of Virtual Professionals ask is whether they need a website or will having a Facebook Page suffice? A website is professional validation, your online business card.
In general, it is highly advisable to have your own website. Yes, it costs more time and money to set up and run one, but in the long run, it is a digital location that you own. Also, you can control and drive the traffic as opposed to depending entirely on FB’s algorithm to drive leads your way.
Key components of your website
-About you – talk about your expertise and experience. But don’t forget a little about your personality and why you’re a great person to work with.
-Services you offer – broad outlines are good but do share details.
-Overview of Pricing – this is an oft-debated topic, and many VAs choose not to share prices because the range varies a lot. But a large number of clients say that they do look for price points, and not finding any can be a put-off. A great way to manage a big suite of services is to publish your pricing in packages that are worded as ‘Starting at…’ This helps set a ballpark , which clients find more reassuring.
Want to create a website that informs and attracts? Get this free Guide to Websites that Convert.
Create a digital portfolio
If your work is visual, say design or video editing, include some examples. This speaks to both, your experience and the quality of your output.
Some things you can share are social media graphics, email outlines, spreadsheets and presentations templates. (You can even blur the text, if needed)
Hone your online presence
Once you start your business, your outreach will include many channels like email, social media and other websites. As a Virtual Professional, you’ll need to develop different versions of your pitch – experiment with hooks, word limits etc. You can also create a detailed media kit if you have a lot to share.
Most VAs also send a proposal, once conversations go beyond the prospecting stage. So develop a standard template for communication that covers the following:
-Jobs you will (and won’t) do.
-Prices and payment terms
-Communication & logistics – how will the work be set up. Most clients will have a specific way of doing this, but it is important to have your own system too, else managing the work for multiple clients can be messy.
-Timelines – e.g. you will need a 24-48 hour notice or that you will be available from 10am-1pm for video chats.
-Exit options, especially if it is a long term or ongoing contract.
Create a bank of content based freebies
Freebies offer your prospective clients and collaborators a showcase into how in-depth or wide your expertise is. Plus, if you’re asking for an email, they are a great way to capture leads and keep the conversation going.
E.g. if your expertise is in managing Pinterest or posting through Tailwind, you can offer up free Pin templates or a Checklist for setting up a Pinterest account.
Top Digital Products. One Home!
Build a bank of referrals and testimonials
Ask your clients for testimonials that you can use on your website and social media. Or if you are a newbie VA, offer up free or discounted work in return for testimonials. It’s a win-win that can really help you earn the trust and interest from paying customers in the future.
Here are some ways that they can offer up a valuable boost.
- Referrals and shout-outs in Facebook groups.
- Recommend your Facebook page
- Instagram/ Twitter tags
- Personal Email (be sure to ask the client if you can use that)
Here is an example of a great video testimonial that’s a win-win!
Expand your social media reach
While we talked about the value of your own web presence, it is possible that a large chunk of your audience resides on Facebook or Instagram. Make sure that your business or solo practice is represented on social too.
You can start with 1 channel and expand your coverage. Post periodically, if not regularly. Share ideas, content and tips and even recommendations.
Importantly, don’t overlook the power of Facebook groups as well as the value of an FB Page as your website on social.
Network. Market. Network
The VA business is competitive, at least till you establish your brand and trust. So initially, you will have to hustle till you land a few major clients who might open a lot more doors for you. Until then, you should scout ads, cold email prospects, be active on social. Also create your Linkedin profile and keep checking for VA jobs.
Also join networks like Maroon Oak where virtual professionals can be more visible, and also easily connect with other entrepreneurs to browse Opportunities.
Find Members by Skills & Location!
Creating your own virtual assistant venture can be very rewarding and lucrative, if it’s done right. With a clear plan, few tech tools and savvy marketing, it is possible to build a regular stream of prospects and clients.
Don’t wait. The time to start is literally – and virtually – now!
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Business Mentor and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years.
She’s a co-founder at Maroon Oak, and is founded Win Thinks, where she writes, speaks and teaches about Digital Media, Brand Building and Future Ready Businesses. A day trader for over a decade, Pooja launched Trading Paces to educate amateur and pro stock traders. As a classroom mentor, Pooja loves teaching students across the U.S. about job skills and entrepreneurship. Read about her on Huffington Post and Forbes.
A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, she’s discovering the pleasure of drawing Zentangle patterns for ‘creative mindfulness.’
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