So you’ve decided to start a virtual assistance business.
Hooray! Hopefully, you’ve figured out a few services to offer (if not, check out my free course here), maybe made a business website, got yourself set up legally, and you’re more than ready for your first client. But how do you nab one? It’s not always easy, but I believe in you. Here are a few suggestions to help.
Putting the word out to friends and family.
Spreading the word about what you’re up to with your friends and relatives can actually pay off.
My first official client was my sister-in-law, and we still work together 3-½ years later. I had no idea she was looking for VA help, but when I let everyone in my family know, she and I connected the dots.
Why this works:
Your friends and family already know you’re awesome and trustworthy. They want you to succeed, and they know where you live, so you better do the work and do it well. 🙂
How to spread the word? Send out an email announcement and a Facebook post explaining a bit about what you’re offering and your rates.
It’s up to you if you want to do ‘friends and family’ pricing, of course, but that’s what I did starting out. This is potentially tricky down the road as you get busy with full-price clients and will probably mean an awkward conversation about adjusting to regular rates or transitioning them to a new VA. Only you know your dynamic with whatever friend or family is interested in working with you, so make sure it’s a super good fit or that it’s a temporary project.
Reach out to other VAs and ask to subcontract for them.
Subcontracting under a busy VA is an excellent way to help another VA out while getting shown the ropes a bit, getting experience, and getting testimonials.
I started out as an intern for another VA, and then we moved to subcontracting. Not only did I get testimonials and experience, but I also got more confidence in working with clients. And the VA I worked under was able to grow her business and make more money, even expanding by adding other VAs with different expertise as time went on.
Why this works:
Lots of us VAs are busy bees and would love some help. Many are also looking for ways to grow their businesses, but can’t take on more hours or clients without adding team members like yourself. Also, the VA community is incredibly supportive and helpful. I think it’s in many VA’s DNA to want to help others, so most are glad to when they can!
Here’s how to find subcontracting work:
- Start a spreadsheet listing any VAs you know, especially look for people you’re already connected with on social media or elsewhere, VAs you’ve heard of, and start looking for names of VAs who are publicly stressing about their workload or talking about wanting to grow their business.
- Make a connection. While just cold asking if someone needs help can work sometimes, it’s best if the VA has seen you on social media or chatted with you in the past. A personal connection with someone is always going to win over a stranger. Try to be as helpful as you can, especially in VA and business-related Facebook groups.
- Consider offering a short internship in exchange for a testimonial and some expertise. If you’re just starting out with very little experience and few connections, offering a 2 to 3-month internship opportunity to an established VA can help get your foot in the door. This is again what I did before subcontracting. Offer to give them 5 hours a week of your time without pay as they get to know you, but make sure you’re getting a few things out of it, such as a recommendation or referrals and, of course, the opportunity to ask for testimonials.
Be on the lookout for people seeking VA help in Facebook. I’ve found clients through both groups specifically dedicated to connecting VAs and clients, AND through Facebook groups specifically for a class, I was taking, such as the VA classroom’s Infusionsoft. In fact, the VA Classroom’s private group is how I landed my DREAM client a while back.
For these groups, you’ve got to be vigilant, checking in several times a day, with a good system in place for what steps to take next as there will likely be many other VAs tossing their hats in the ring.
Why this works:
There are groups for almost any niche, so you can find where your target market hangs out and connect with them directly. Want to work with authors? There are plenty of book and author groups. Same goes for nonprofits, recipe developers, teachers, the list goes on and on. This is obviously my favorite method for finding new clients.
Here’s the simple system for landing clients in Facebook:
- Be a regular in a few groups and get a little more active than you otherwise might be, asking and answering questions, sharing useful information, and checking in a few times a day.
- When you see an opportunity posted, read it thoroughly and make sure you can help them and offer what they’re looking for, and if not, tag or refer someone who is a better fit. Best to share the love and build good will.
- Send them a response with a link to my website, my professional email, and an invitation to talk more about their project.
- If you don’t have a website yet, have some link you can send a lead (potential client), like a LinkedIn page, a Facebook Biz page, and also your professional email.
I have had a couple of inquiries about my services through LinkedIn, though only when I was too full to accept new clients, so I don’t have first-hand knowledge of how powerful this can be, but I’ve heard LinkedIn can be a dream for finding clients.
Why this works:
I mean, it’s pretty much the whole point of LinkedIn, right? Connecting professionally with others?
- Optimize profile.
- Get active in groups/sharing, similar to Facebook.
- Send out messages letting my connections know about your services.
Request For Proposals
I have zero experience with this, I admit! However, I’ve heard from other VAs that this can be a good way to get a new client.
As the VA, you’ll be responding to these requests and business owners/VA seekers are the ones who create them.
You can find proposals like these by joining organizations like the IVAA or Virtual Assistantville where you’ll get access to a members’ only list of RFPs. The client’s proposal should have all the details and you can respond directly to them to set up a meeting.
Why this works:
Companies who are taking the time to fill out (and likely pay to do so) an RFP are serious about finding a VA and finding the right one, so you can be sure that the list is full of people with plenty of work ready for someone to get started on.
I know that using one or more of these tactics will help connect you with your first clients! After the first two or so, it does get much easier.
Still stuck on what to offer in your biz? Check out my free 5-day VA Services Vision Quest to get some clarity on what services will bring you joy and make you money!
How did you snag your very first client? Let us know in the comments!