You might already have a business name, business cards, a website, an amazing desk space in the spare room and a drawer full of colourful stationery, but you ideally need some clients so you can properly be a business owner and pay for more stationery as and when required.
It’s daunting, isn’t it? Where do you start? Do you just wait for the phone to ring? An email to pop into your inbox?
Kind of yeah, there will be months when you click on your inbox hoping you’ve got an enquiry. It’s a little like dating when you’re waiting for a text or a call. And again, just like dating, there will be some rejection, but what isn’t a grey area is that you’re going to put yourself out there, you’re going to instigate these professional relationships.
My four initial tips to start you on the road to finding clients are:
Display your rates
Before you start looking for clients you do need to know your rates otherwise you could quite easily undervalue yourself, and the VA industry, by charging too little. You could also be giving yourself less than minimum wage if you go in too low because you need to factor in software licences, insurance, electricity, etc.
I’ve seen a few freelancers query whether they should have their rates on their website, but I am a HUGE advocate. Consider this, would you want to have to contact an online clothing retailer to ask how much an outfit was, then have to have an awkward conversation and listen to some sales spiel if it’s well out of your price range, or would you go to the next website that openly lists its prices?
As VA’s were here to take pressure off our clients and give them some time back, so potential clients are not going to want to make unnecessary calls and have awkward conversations, or wait for an email reply.
Displaying your rates also weeds out the time wasters and those who are looking, hoping and praying for less than your hourly worth.
My book, How to be a Virtual Assistant, has a whole chapter on how to nail your hourly worth and stick to it with confidence.
One friend and ex-colleague said to me once ‘you’re everywhere online aren’t you?’. I immediately apologised thinking I must have become like that annoying friend who posts pointless status updates everytime they cough, but he (Head of Digital Marketing for a government organisation) replied with ‘No, it’s great! Your content is useful, enjoyable and relevant’.
And, I firmly believe you need to be doing exactly that too. Be a constant presence online – from a business owner perspective – with relevant, engaging content that is going to attract potential clients.
You can’t achieve this overnight, but you have to start somewhere, so get those business profiles up and running.
Start planning out where you’re going to be and when, whether that’s online, face to face marketing or at events so people start recognising you and you become the one they think of whenever someone says ‘I need a VA’.
Confirm your services and display them
‘I can do your admin’ doesn’t really say ‘what’ you do as admin can cover a multitude of things, just like ‘bookkeeping’ can.
Are you offering proofreading, transcription services, email or diary management, travel bookings or something completely different?
Highlight to your potential clients what it is you’re able to do for them. You won’t be able to, or indeed want to, list absolutely everything, because remember they’re busy, so start with the tasks you particularly enjoy. I can promise you that potential clients will contact you to ask if you’re able to help with something that’s not listed on your website, but you do need to guide them to your area of expertise by listing key services and packages you’re confident using.
Seek and pounce
If you read or perceive that someone is struggling with time, a task or an aspect of their business you can help with contact them, tell them you’re able to help when they’re ready to outsource and explain, briefly how that help will be of benefit to them.
Sell your services, you and the reward for the business owner for their investment in your time
That first client will come, I promise and with that, your confidence will grow.