Thaleia Maher from Something2Offer and I have joined forces to co-create a series this month called What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant. She and I have had so many valuable discussions about being virtual assistants and working from home that we decided to get serious about this topic and create something that will really help readers understand what a VA is, and move forward in their quest to become one.
These are just a few things we will be covering on Franticmommy, and Thaleia’s Something2Offer blog:
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: The Basics
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: Finding Clients
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: Picking Your Niche
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: Systems and Strategies for Sustainability (coming 8/29!)
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: Tools and Skills
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: How VA and Regular Employees Differ
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: When to Know it’s Time to Hire a VA
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: I’ve Hired a VA: NOW WHAT?
First, what IS a VA? A Virtual Assistant is just that, someone who assists you in your business (from the comfort of their own office)-freeing you up to work on more critical things like creating products, sales, customer retention, etc. A VA can help with things like managing your emails, doing your bookkeeping, writing blog posts, project management, managing your social media and much more. We work as independent contractors but are like paid employees.
A VA can be a long-term commitment, or a “one time deal” for a project. It’s up to the VA and the business owner to hammer out the details and put it into a contract. My advice to all VAs (new or veteran) is to never work without a contract. If you need an idea of what a Virtual Assistant contract looks like, leave a comment below with your email and I will send you a template of the one I use.
What a VA is NOT. Being a Virtual Assistant is an organized business like any other business. You wouldn’t pound a nail in your neighbor’s porch and call yourself a carpenter, right? The same applies to being a VA. If you want to be a virtual assistant, create your business as an LLC or Sole Proprietor, get business cards made, form a resume, and create a sales page with your rates and skills. Be serious about it and conduct yourself as a business professional.
WHERE DO I FIND CLIENTS?
That’s a biggee isn’t it?
First let me say, looking for VA clients is just like applying for any other job. Don’t expect to “hang out your shingle” and have clients flocking to you after a few tweets. Prepare for client prospecting like you would prepare for a white-collar job interview. Have your fees and rates in order, a landing page of some sort (blog or website) where potential clients can check you out, and a well put together resume with work history, skillsets, and current and past client info. Once your ducks are in a row, a prospecting you will go!
Upwork: This is a great site where prospective clients who are looking for talent to help them can go for long (or short) term help on projects, marketing, or basic business functions. To get started decide whether you want the paid or free version (free would be fine until you get going) and start creating your profile. Your profile should including a resume, work history, and your skillsets. Once this is in place you can start combing the postings for potential work.
Listings are broken down by category so you can look only for writing jobs, marketing jobs, etc. Once you locate one you like, read the description of the work (including the pay offered) and submit your “proposal” which is basically what it sounds like. You are proposing you are best for the job because_______. You would then also fill out the compensation you desire and if there is a timeline for completion of work, what that would be. Be aware that Elance has a slug of what I call “crap job” listings. These would be the people who want you to write 50-500 word articles for $4.00 each…NOT. Be choosy with what you apply for and YES you may have to take a few “low-payers” just for experience sake.
But for the long-term, know your worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
HireMyMom: HMM has always been my “honey hole” for finding my clients. Some of my best clients came from HMM. There is a yearly fee to be able to use HMM’s service, but it totally worth the investment. The jobs are screened, for a wide range of skillsets, and good quality. This site is for moms, run by a mom so it’s near-and-dear to my heart.
Word-Of-Mouth: Good ol’ “WOM” is the best way to grow your client base. I don’t think I’ve ever had a client that didn’t refer me to another client. If you have worked for a client for a while, and they are happy with your work, ASK. Ask them “do you know of anyone who could use my services?” You’d be surprised how effective that is for gaining new clients!
The options below are just that; OPTIONS. I have not used these services so I can’t give you any insight as to their effectiveness. If you have had experience with any of these options (good or bad) share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Craigslist; Although this would not be my first choice, and I have never personally used Craigslist to find work, I know several people who have.
ProBlogger Job Board: These jobs tend to be very blogging orientated but still worth a look.
RatRaceRebellion: These jobs all tend to be more “work-at-home” than “virtual assistant” but still worth checking into. Also, note this site contains A LOT of ads.
Virtual Assistant Needed – Employment at Home, No Fees
www.virtual-assistant-needed.com Looking for highly qualified candidates to fill virtual assistant needs for various employers. All applicants are pre-screened in order to meet job requirements. Employment needs fluctuate constantly, and we do receive a large number of applicants. This is a no fee work at home job. (Found on MoneyMakingMommy)
I just found this article from Krista Martin on The 7 Easiest Places to Find New Clients and though it is geared more towards coaching…much of what suggests applies beautifully to VA and Freelance work as well.
Who DOESN’T Make a Good Client:
Honestly, I know you may want to dive right in and start prospecting for business, but here’s my short list of whom to try to AVOID adding as your client:
- *Friends: Your BFF may quickly become an EX-BFF if you take them on as a client
- People who are slow to pay on time. If you late once, I’ll cut you some slack. If it happens again, all work will cease until payment is made. When payment is made, congrats; you are now part of my monthly “pre-pay” plan.
- *Family: And that’s all I got to say ’bout that.
- *Overseas clients: I have clients in Canada and it works just fine. Just be aware that, if you do want to work with clients overseas, do it through a job site like Elance or Guru. That was there will at least be some checks and balances and safety measures in place.
Be sure and check out Thaleia’s posts HERE as well since we are doing this series in tandem. If you have any specific thoughts, comments, or questions, please leave them in the comment box below. We want to know what YOU are wondering about and what you need to know to start Rockin The VA Life?
Tons of “getting started” info from what kind of gear will you need to where are the best places to find clients. Did I mention it was free?
Best of luck to you in your new quest!
- I’ve Hired a Virtual Assistant: Now What?
- How a Virtual Assistant Differs from a Regular Employee
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: The Tools and Skills
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: A New Series
- What it Takes to be a Virtual Assistant: Picking Your Niche
- What it Takes to Be a Virtual Assistant: How to Know When it’s Time to Hire a VA