Once you’ve set up your website/Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, you’re ready to start looking for your first clients. Many beginning virtual assistants don’t know where to look for clients or how to start marketing their new business. I moderate Coffee Chats for IVAA and this comes up EVERY TIME. If that describes you, don’t panic. Here are a few ways to land your first client …
Ask for Referrals
The first and most obvious place to look for your first client is for a referral from friends or family. Tell everyone that will listen that you’re a virtual assistant and you’re looking for work. You might start by sending an email out to your sphere of influence just telling them what you are doing and pointing them to your marketing page. Another suggestion is to do a social media post and put it on all the channels where you have profiles. Be sure to ask that everyone SHARE your post so that it will start circulating. One helpful thing in doing this is to create an introduction graphic to put with the post. This way, as it gets shared, the information is right up front that you are looking to help them. This is my introduction graphic. It's very simple and I just did it in Canva.
Many VAs have started their careers just from referrals that came from their social circles. Share how you can help clients and be enthusiastic when describing what you do. Your enthusiasm can attract clients who are eager to work with you.
Another place to look for clients is LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile on this social media network, set one up. If you have a profile you haven’t used in a long time, then dust it off.
When it comes to your job title, be sure to use the phrase ‘Virtual Assistant’. Project managers and potential clients do a search on LinkedIn when they’re ready to hire someone.
After you’ve set up a LinkedIn profile or updated your existing one, start connecting with friends and colleagues. Sometimes, an invitation to connect can remind an old co-worker or friend that they know someone that needs your services. And, remember, be sure to post that introduction graphic on here. LinkedIn has a program called ProFinder. When I used it last, you could sign up for free and then answer 10 job posts for free before needing to have a paid membership. I found some good, quality clients there.
Consider Contracting Under Another VA
In IVAA, there are a lot of great VAs that work together on teams. This is a way to get your feet wet and learn more about the business as you grow your own business. It's also a wonderful way to help someone out who might not have the skills you do.
Look in Facebook Groups
Think about the type of clients you want to serve. Maybe you want to help authors handle their social media. If that’s the case, look for Facebook groups where authors are gathered and request to join.
Depending on the group’s rules, you may be allowed to share your VA services in a post. (Again, this is a good chance to use that introduction graphic as many groups allow you to introduce yourself.) Some groups don’t allow service providers to post about their businesses but they do let members ask for referrals. You can comment and tell other members about the services you offer if they’re looking for a VA.
Check Job Boards
Some virtual assistants, including me, have gotten their first clients through various job boards. Typically, job boards work like this: a client posts about the project they need to be done on the board. This project can be big like redesigning their entire website or it might be small like scheduling a few social media updates each month. Then virtual assistants who are members of the job board can reply to the client, answering questions and sharing why they’re right for the job. If the poster decides to work with you, then you get the job.
Usually, the job board gets a percentage of your earnings as a fee for letting you use the service. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to pay any money upfront to use the board. In fact, you only pay if you’re successfully matched with a client. The disadvantage to this is that the fees can sometimes be steep. UpWork is what I use and that fee starts at 20% until you make your first $500 for a client and then goes to 10%. Be sure to build that fee into your proposals.
Keep in mind that finding your first clients as a virtual assistant can take some time. Don’t give up if it takes a few weeks to start seeing results from your marketing efforts. If you preserve and keep networking, you will land that first client.
Rebecca Paciorek is an Online Business Manager specializing in assisting in the growth of your business through traditional and digital means.
*I often recommend products and services that I use or that have been recommended to me by people we trust. In many cases these recommendations are accompanied by an affiliate link, which provides me with a referral commission should you click through and make a purchase.