Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Virtual Assistant

SVA put together 10 baby-steps to becoming a Virtual Assistant – a must-read for any aspiring assistant! Continue reading

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Social Networking Friday For Virtual Assistants

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I hope you got some really useful tips from the previous Marketing Friday tips. This week and next we are giving you 4 social media hints and tips to help you market your Virtual Assistant business:

1. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your target market and participate in discussions. Get yourself known as an expert in your field and it also gives you a heads up on the issues they’re facing. Connect with all your previous work colleagues; tell them what you are doing.

2. Similarly with Twitter, use it to find out who’s talking about specific issues and then tweet your own knowledgeable articles/snippets as appropriate and relevant. It’s about joining the conversation, not blatant sales! Keep your tweet ratio to 65% business: 30% personal: 5% sales. Don’t forget to follow SVA for the latest VA news, tips and tweets.

3. Use something like Hootsuite to post your articles, links and news to as many social media networks as possible.

4. Facebook pages for businesses need a minimum number of “likes” before getting a “vanity URL” (e.g. www.facebook.com/SVA rather than www.facebook.com/12345678899urlblurb). Ask your friends to all like the page so you can establish the business online.

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Note on the Approved Virtual Assistant listings

I’ve had a fair few emails recently from newbies asking why they can’t sign up and get straight on the SVA directory… Well here’s why:

When we started SVA, we did it with the collaboration of a number of VAs, and our strength has always come from sharing our experiences, joining together and working with (not against) one another.

Joining just to get listed on the FIND A VA page goes against the ethos of SVA and we had a lot of people doing just that then not contributing anything to the industry at all – that’s not what we wanted, so our delay in allowing people to apply is so they get to know a little bit about how SVA works so they understand that unique spirit of collaboration.

So as a newbie here’s our best advice:

  1. Join in and get to know some of the VAs – post on the forum, join the Facebook groups, etc.
  2. You will get an invite to join, keep an eye on your email!
  3. Meantime you are very welcome to use the community logos and link with us.
  4. Make sure you comply with all our rules for approved members – you will be asked to certify this before being activated on the site.
  5. Be patient – the list is managed by volunteers who usually update once per week, so making sure you fill in all data straight away will minimise delays.
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LinkedIn Diary

linkedin64x64So one of my actions from the Northern VA Collaboration was sparked by an inspiring talk from Nicola Little of Sparkle Communications who was talking about LinkedIn.

Her presentation showed how by using only a freebie profile and 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn she had generated a massive amount of business in just 1 month.

I’m afraid I’m a LinkedIn skeptic… I did give poor Nicola a hard time, but she stood her ground – it worked for her, she is evangelical about its uses for all small businesses.  So I’m putting my money where my mouth is… This is live data from my profile, and I’ll be doing a little bit every day from 1st June to see if I can replicate the results.  Continue reading

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#VACollab16 VA Ethics

Ci-SNq7WUAAXjawSo I promised we would pop a few takeaway thoughts up online for those of you who were unable to make it along to #VACollab16 – oh but what fun you missed!  A really fantastic day organised by Angela Dawson and Nicola Burt Skinner, I cannot recommend highly enough for newbie virtual assistants and old hands alike – I’ve got a stack of actions and ideas to use in my own VA business from it, so I’ve got a busy week ahead!

Why are ethics important in the Virtual Assistant world?

Continue reading

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Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

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Here we are at the end of our Marketing Friday series. I hope you’ve gained some really useful tips in the last 19 weeks and have watched your business flourish. Here are our final 6 tips to help you market your Virtual Assistant business:

1. This one seems like a no-brainer but you would be surprised: ANSWER THE PHONE! Have a reliable answer phone or answering service and check messages and return calls as soon as possible. It’s silly to make all that effort getting people to call you and then not following up. Ditto emails – if you are out of the office put an autoresponder on telling people when you’ll be returning and responding to their email.

2. Plan! Make time in your schedule for marketing your business. Sit down and plan when different activities will need to be done in order to bring in business at quiet times over summer holidays or at Christmas. Not only will this help you manage your time properly, it will also help you budget. Aim for about 50% of your time being spent on marketing in the first 6 months.

3. Podcast – use www.audioacrobat.com to create and distribute your podcast. You could use it as an aural newsletter or even as a free product. It’s just one more way of getting in contact with your clients.

4. Spellcheck. I’m so going to shoot myself in the foot and create about 10 bloopers in this text but spelling and grammar are especially important in the VA industry and you should always get someone to read over and check your marketing materials with fresh eyes BEFORE they go to print. (I have hundreds of misspelt business cards festering under the sofa to prove that I have now learnt my lesson). Consider also that your spelling and punctuation will also be under scrutiny on forums and online, so remember check twice, post once.

5. Listen to what your customers are saying. Their feedback will help you create new products and services that they will use and keep them delighted with your service. Consider feedback forms or online “suggestion box” email address.

6. Finally, marketing is the backbone of your small business. It’s an essential ingredient to your success but you should have fun doing it. Make sure what you are doing suits you – good luck!!!

 

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Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

marketing

Welcome to our penultimate post in our Marketing Friday series, hopefully you have tried many of our previous marketing suggestions. Here are this week’s tips to help you market your Virtual Assistant business:

1. Look at where your leads are coming from by studying your website traffic. Often you can see what search terms people are looking from and where they have linked from on your web statistics. Analyse this once a month to keep your finger on the pulse of who is looking you up. Google Analytics is free and easy to install with great detail.

2. From a former AdGirl: Don’t advertise! It’ll eat your marketing budget faster than you can earn it and the results (whatever the sales person says!) are just not that great for small businesses focusing on personal service. Invest in other methods of attracting customers like networking / word of mouth / referrals; you’ll get better results I promise!

3. If you must advertise (and sometimes there might be a specific industry publication or must read local paper) try and get some free guaranteed editorial to go with it. Get figures of exactly who reads the publication (don’t believe circulation and take “readership” figures with a large pinch of salt especially for free papers). Try www.jicreg.co.uk for independent readership data.

4. Offer a freebie. Maybe a free report, or a free assessment, or a free guide or how to advice. People love freebies, and they build trust and rapport. Plus they can be used as an incentive to sign up for newsletters e.g. sign up for our newsletter and receive a free one page report on how to streamline your business processes.

5. Write an article and post it on the internet. There are literally thousands of article sites out there who will host your article (often for free) along with your contact details. Not only does this place you as being the expert in your field but it also creates more links into your website.

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Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

marketing

I hope you are enjoying and benefiting from our series of tips to help you market your virtual assistant business. Here are this week’s tips:

1. When emailing clients make the email interactive with lots of links, clicks and further information for them to use. Plus if you host the articles they click through to on your site, it’ll help your hit rates and again Google loves that! Email signatures are particularly useful for this.

2. Create a call to action on all your marketing materials. Think about what you want the person to do when they get your email or pick up your flyer – then tell them to do it! So often you see flyers with lots of info but no real purpose, make sure yours get results.

3. When writing copy for your flyers sell the benefits your service will give the customer rather than listing the features. So instead of saying “Virtual Assistant Bookkeeping service with 5 hours included” you might write “Sick of bookkeeping? Hand it over to a Virtual Assistant and save time now!”

4. Personalise your material for the target market you are aiming it at. Include first names, specific examples and consider further personalisation with handwritten notes or signatures.

5. Consider buying space in e-newsletters. Great exposure to a targeted geographical business market. Or create a small business newsletter to showcase your talents!

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Converting to virtual

How virtual assistants workOne of my core VA beliefs is that people won’t work with us unless it is to their advantage.  However, faced with having to take a risk trusting someone they can’t see with their business, possibly learn new software, and not being able to micromanage you, sometimes it is a step too far… They want someone in the office.

My approach to this has always been:

Well you aren’t ready to work with a VA then, call me when you are.

But I totally get why it kills newbie VAs to finally snag a prospective client and then have to turn them down simply because they want you to work some of the time in the office… Continue reading

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Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

marketing

 

It is Marketing Friday! Here are this week’s tips to help you market your Virtual Assistant business:

1. Offer a prize. Offer your services as a prize in a competition in return for the contact details of everyone entering. Team up with a newspaper, magazine or organisation.

2. Get testimonials. If you’ve done a great job ask your clients if they would mind being included in your marketing materials as a testimonial – get them to give you a quote about why they use your service, how it’s made a difference to them and what it meant to their business along with their name, business, and possibly contact details if they are willing to be a referee for you and your business.

3. When writing copy for your website remember to include those all-important keywords and phrases in the titles and first part of the text. Search engines trawl through these and will recognise your site as a “Virtual Assistant”, “Administrative Support” “offering bookkeeping, web design and secretarial support” “based in Edinburgh” site and list it as such. Also keep it short, snappy and use lots of bullets, as people tend to scan sites rather than reading them.

4. Frequent flyers for VAs? Offer a discount on services when they buy over a certain amount – buy 5 hours, get one free for example.

5. Under promise and over deliver customer delight every time. Note: don’t just aim to deliver customer satisfaction, it’s boring and everyone does it!

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Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

marketing

Hello, welcome back to our regular Friday series to help you market your Virtual Assistant business. Here are this week’s tips:

1. Contact your local newspaper (www.mediauk.com) and ask about inserting leaflets in the paper.

2. Or contact your local newsagent who may be willing to do newspaper inserts on a smaller scale across all newspapers being delivered.

3. Enter a competition – there are lots of new business, entrepreneurial prizes or local business prizes. Not only are the prizes great, but you get to network with other business, and create excellent PR.

4. Have professional photography done. Good for creating a personal “real” feel to your website and also for supplying along with press releases as a visual aid. Plus you can use these as an avatar on all your networking forums. Remember to get hi-res and lo-res versions.

5. Start a networking group. A bit extreme, but if you’re finding it hard to find a suitable business networking venue then there are probably a few other people in the same situation.

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