If you’re considering becoming a freelancer and starting your own business, a virtual assistant is a great place to start! It’s how I started and how I tripled my old teacher income…only working 20 hours per week!
You’ll be working on your own terms – when, how, and where you want to work – and setting your own rates (and deciding when to raise them! Cha-ching!). You can choose the clients you want to work with and have time for all the other important things in your life.
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Although the steps to starting any business will vary depending on where you’re located and how you want to approach your virtual assistant biz, these are the basics for getting started.
Step 1: Lay a Solid Foundation.
This is such an important step & trust me- I learned the hard way that I should have started here. Since I jumped in without fully realizing the legitimacy and opportunities within freelancing, I caused myself some MAJOR & avoidable headaches by not getting super serious about the “boring” legal/financial steps and focusing on mindset work. I know this step can seem silly and even skippable but trust me – it’s not!
First things first make sure you:
- Get the legal and money side legit. Taxes, billing rates, opening a business bank account, LLC vs. sole proprietorship, all the good stuff.
- Mindset work! Know your WHY! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, listen to this podcast episode where I cover this in-depth! It seems silly but it is CRUCIAL to keeping you focused & moving forward!
- Set up your virtual assistant business tools. What software will you use for billing? How will you send out contracts? How will you accept payments? Communicate with clients? Get all of this setup BEFORE you even land a discovery call so you’re not scrambling at the last minute!
2. Define your ideal client.
Yep! you have to think about who you want to work with. I firmly believe if you market to everyone, you market to no one. Period. End of story.
However, I know you are probably in the camp of “I just want someone to pay me, someone to hire me” but trust me — you will connect with the right people and they will hire you… if you know who you want to hire you. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to turn down people who do not check all your ideal client demographics! If someone comes to you and wants to hire you as a virtual assistant, you get to make that choice! In the beginning, my guess is you will say yes, as long it seems like a good match. And you will get people attracted to you that are outside your ideal client wishlist, and that’s awesome! So, to figure out who you want to work with, make sure you:
- Map out your ideal client: who are they? What are their interests? What are their pain points? Where do they hang out online? What problem do they need solved? How do they communicate? It’s time to put your detective hat on & research the heck out of them!
- Then, use this information to create your ideal client avatar. You can even give them a name and a background – authors do this all the time when trying to get clear on book ideas and how the narrative plays out! Use your ideal client avatar to shape everything from your logo to the style and tone of your writing.
3. Get clear on how your business is going to make money.
One of the #1 questions I get asked before people purchase OTO is if the program will help determine the services you should offer and what skills you have. So – to answer that…YES! You can 100% sign up for OTO without a clear picture of your skills and services. It’s allll covered!
But no matter what, with or without my program, you gotta know what services you will offer and how much you charge before you work with someone!
So to get clear on your offers and how you will make money:
- Determine your services. What are your interests and passions? What skills do you have that transition into a freelance niche? If you have no idea – that’s ok, too! I’ll link my free workshop in the comments to help get you started! And remember – you can always pivot! Just because you start as a Pinterest Manager or Virtual Assistant doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind once you have some experience in other areas!
- Once you know what services you want to offer, create your packages and price them out. There is a handy-dandy tool within OTO that will do this for you, but if you’re going the DIY route just research the standard market rate for your services & experience level & start from there! You can offer hourly rates or “buckets” of hours at a package price.
- Create a plan to build consistent income (think retainer clients). What services can you offer every month to keep clients coming back?
4. Design a professional brand.
Remember how I said everything stems back to your ideal client? It’s true! When you create your business and are working to create your brand, you want it to catch your ideal client’s eye and make her (or him) think WOW! She was made for me!
Branding can be time-consuming, but to get your business started, it doesn’t have to be! Keep it simple and remember – done is better than perfect!
What you need when first developing your brand is
- A business name
- Brand Colors
- Brand Logo
- Brand Images
- Foundational brand copy.
Canva is a great free design resource and you can find inspiration on Pinterest for all of this & more! In the OTO group, we encourage new students to drop their logos and biz mood boards so that other students and alum can chime in with suggestions and encouragement!
5. Develop an online business presence.
To build a business you need visibility. You need people to know you have a business. This does not mean you have to spend a ton of money on marketing or building a website.
I do not believe you should invest in any paid advertising or invest in a website (both time and money), instead, some great options are easy to navigate and FREE!
So how can you create an online presence that is quick, easy, and FREE?!
- Create a digital portfolio! Again, Canva is a great resource for design and you can find examples of different portfolios on Pinterest – just search your niche and portfolio!
- Create a Facebook business page!
- Be strategic with your personal profile. Add links to your business profile and portfolio in your personal profile
6. Map out and execute your plan to land clients.
Now that you know WHO you want to work for, how much you’ll be charging, and what services you will be offering – it’s time to find clients! How?!
- How will you find clients? Through social media and online networking? Cold pitching to local businesses? Remember – what would your IDEAL client prefer?
- Start networking and implementing your strategy. Spend at least 20 minutes each day engaging in the networking method of your choice.
- Plan a script for your discovery call and PRACTICE! You do not want to wait until you are on the call to realize you have no idea how to sell yourself or your services!
- Track progress, follow-up, and evaluate. After one month, see what is working and what isn’t. Are you doing great at networking and pitching but falling flat after a discovery call? Does the discovery call go great but then you hear crickets after you send a proposal? Determine what you can tweak and test to keep moving forward!
7. Brainstorms how you can WOW clients.
Once you land that first client, you have a huge responsibility — you have to deliver on what you said you would and what you are paid to do!
To get started on the right foot from the beginning, and wow your clients (so they’ll keep hiring you AND start sending you referrals!) here is your checklist:
- Send your clients a welcome email laying out all the next steps and what you will be delivering on. Remember – under-promise and over-deliver! Finish before the deadline, go the extra step, & really WOW them!
- Plan out your onboarding process. Make sure it’s super-simple for clients to sign your contracts & pay you!
- Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism! Ask your clients after the first project or during the middle of your first retainer how things are going. Did they envision this project or your work style looking different? Be open to changes and tweaks as you go!
Whew! I know that’s a LOT of information to be throwing your way right now! And remember, you do NOT have to do this alone! If you are ready to launch your business as a virtual assistant but would prefer communal support and more 1-on-1 coaching, enroll in OTO right here! My video trainings cover everything we mentioned here in so much more depth, and you’ll have immediate access to the course community and all our fun bonuses!
Need to start smaller? I have even more helpful tips and resources on my website – all free – that can show you the path to becoming a freelancer.