Marketing your VA business on a budget
Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a great way to earn an income. The rates are good; it’s very flexible so you can work around other commitments; and it offers a great deal of variety so you never get bored.
If you want longevity out of this career you are going to need to market your services to attract more, and better paying, clients. When you have a tiny budget and limited time, this might seem like an impossible task. However, with a spark of creativity and a commitment to be consistent in your marketing efforts you will be surprised what great results you can reap.
Get a website set up
You might resist taking this step at the start but if you want to look professional getting an online presence really is non-negotiable. Plus, if you opt for building a site on the WordPress.org platform you can get a domain and hosting for just a few dollars per month.
There are plenty of tutorials online to help you design your WordPress site and you can make it super simple, with maybe just 2 or 3 pages. You will want to introduce yourself and let people know more about your expertise, plus you will want to lay out your services. Adding a blog is also a good idea as we will come on to in a minute. Finally, don’t forget to add your contact details so people know where to reach you if they want to book your services.
Yes, building a website is an extra skill to learn, but you can also then add WordPress experience to your list of skills and potentially help clients out with their sites, a win/win situation.
Promote for free on social media
For the most part, social media is free and you will want to use the platforms to spread the word about your business. The trick is not to spread yourself too thin and to focus on just 2 or 3 social media platforms. Facebook is always a good bet, simply because of the number of people who are on the platform, and Instagram and Twitter can work well too. One essential platform for VAs is LinkedIn. Write a great profile and then get active in growing your network. If you want more tips on increasing your leads through LinkedIn this is a great article.
In your description, you should include keywords which outline your skill set as this can help you to show up in search and therefore get discovered by business owners looking for support. Also, make sure you ask your existing clients for testimonials and showcase these on your LinkedIn profile as well as on your website and other social media platforms.
Connect in online groups
Another element you can take advantage of on social media is Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. These usually have one day per week when you can promote your own services.
However, it’s also a good idea to build relationships in the groups on an ongoing basis. Answer people’s questions if they fall under your area of expertise and make yourself memorable for being both helpful and knowledgeable. It’s never to be underestimated that the most important part of succeeding in social media is by being social.
Build an email list
One of the best ways to build a business with longevity is to set up a mailing list so you can keep in touch with the people who are interested in your services. While someone may discover your website and not need your services right away, if you send a regular newsletter they may well call on you when they do need business support.
Use a service like Mailchimp, which is free for up to the first 2000 subscribers, to get you started and then send out either a monthly or bi-weekly newsletter to give people helpful tips and updates on your business. As an incentive to join your list, offer subscribers access to something which will be helpful to them in their business, maybe a video showing a tutorial or a pdf providing a list of resources. You can then brand this resource with your website link so people know where to find you.
Showcase your expertise through blogging
Blogging has a number of benefits for your VA business and even better – it’s free, only taking your time to do. A blog on your website can help you get found in the search engines, plus it builds your reputation in the areas that you offer as services within your VA business.
Even a monthly post can help to build a readership and it’s also something that you can share across social media to help bring people back to your website and there discover your services.
Network like a pro
As the saying goes, ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ and networking can definitely be a big asset in terms of growing your business.
There are plenty of business networking groups around and you can find them through a simple Google search. You might also want to connect with your local chamber of commerce or head along to a few business based local meet-ups. It’s also important not to forget the informal approach too. Friends and acquaintances may need support if they are business owners, so don’t be shy to tell people what you do. This doesn’t need to be a sales pitch, but just a word in the right ear can get you recommended.
Take advantage of free advertising
When you are marketing on a budget there is rarely the money available for online advertising, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of any freebies which come your way. Many of the social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, will offer free credits from time to time as does Google and Bing. Just be careful when using these that you don’t go above the free credit limit or you could fast find yourself running up a bill.
Finally, word of mouth is the best and most cost-effective, i.e free, form of advertising there is. If you have worked successfully with a client for a while, don’t hesitate to ask them to refer you. Most people will be happy to do this and the great thing about being a VA is that you can help so many different types of business.
It is important to ask though as most people are so focused on their own businesses that they probably won’t even think to promote yours. However, a simple request via email or on your next call can make all the difference to your client numbers.
Remember, your marketing efforts need to be consistent if you want to have a steady stream of clients. If you get into a good routine of promoting your business through the methods mentioned here, just a few minutes every day will soon see you with all your available hours filled, now and into the future.