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3 Tips to Help You Find More Virtual Assistant Clients

Are you looking for Virtual Assistant clients and coming up empty?

The first thing I would ask is where (exactly) are you looking for them?

I come across this problem often – and VAs tell me they are looking ‘everywhere’.

I’m here to tell you that ‘everywhere’ is the wrong answer if you are asking yourself that question.

When you are in business, you always need to be on the lookout for prospective clients. That’s a given!

But looking 'everywhere' is a waste of time and not the same thing at all.

These are some of the responses I've gotten:

“I’m networking all day long and there are no good clients out there.”

“I spend all of my time looking for clients but I don’t have any.”

“I am ready to give up. All clients want to pay a VA peanuts.”

Have you ever said any of those things … or anything like them?

I have. I know exactly what it feels like to think those things. All three of them as a matter of fact.

But do you know what the problem was? ME!

If you are networking all day long and can’t find good prospective clients, you are looking in the wrong places.

If you are spending all of your time looking for clients but you don’t have any, you are not connecting in the right way.

If you are ready to give up because the people you are in contact with are cheap, you are speaking with the wrong people.

These are FACTS. 

New VAs often lack the ability to network and market their business properly. It is so worth getting some training or guidance on this part of your business. It will save you so much time when you know how to do it right!

If you have heard yourself saying or doing any of the above items, here is how to change gears:

Look in the right places.

Where are you looking? If you are constantly coming up empty, you could be looking in the wrong place.

The best plan is to determine who you can best support, and then figure out where they are and go there to connect with them. In the marketing world this is called finding where they ‘hang out’. Why? Because they are being themselves. They are asking for help or getting advice from colleagues and others in a public forum, whether that’s online or offline.

Look in the right places and you’ll find better prospects, guaranteed.

Connect with people.

Are you actually connecting with people when you are ‘out and about’?

If you are a lurker who is waiting for someone to come up and ask you if you want to help them, you will not get clients. You must speak and actually connect with them.

You have to learn the art of conversation – and practice it – a lot.

It's really just simple math - the more people you talk to, the more clients you will get.

When you have conversations with people about how you can help them, you develop really good skills in this area. Do more of what works for you, and do less of what doesn’t.

Talk to the right people.

Are you even speaking to the right people? If you find yourself educating people about what a VA is, you have your work cut out for you. I would cut bait and run from a group like that. It’s too much effort.

You have to find industries that are already working with VAs so all you have to talk to them about is specifically how you can help them. Trust me on this one, you will see success much faster when you do this.

I spent years trying to let people know how great hiring a VA was and I suffered low income as a result. I know what I speak of here! Focus on a great market that already uses Virtual Assistants. 

Struggling to Find Clients for Your Virtual Assistant Business?Correct these mistakes and you'll get clients.

Getting clients – good clients – takes strategy and action. If you know what you are doing wrong, take steps to correct it.

You can actually find clients by networking for just 15 minutes a day, if you are talking to right people, in the right place, and saying the right things.

If you need some help putting this into action, I invite you to watch this free training I did through Your VA Mentor: Goal Setting to Get Clients.

What You Need to Know About the GDPR (and Why!)

Is your business GDPR compliant?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you have probably heard about the GDPR.

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulations that are coming into effect for people living in the European Union (EU) beginning Friday, May 25, 2018.

Here is what you need to know*:

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for anyone living in the European Union. (Which countries make up the European Union? Click here). The regulation also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU - so, wherever you live.  The GDPR gives control of their personal data to the citizens of the EU. They have the right  to know who has their data, why they have it, what they are doing with it, who they are sharing it with, and how to access it and delete it.

The GDPR actually came into being in April 2016, but there has been a two-year transition period in place. It becomes enforceable on May 25, 2018.

Why is it important?

The GDPR is important to residents of the EU because of the rights they will now have regarding their own personal data worldwide. It is important to those outside the EU because if you are collecting, processing or holding the data of someone in the EU and they have not consented for you to have it or use it, you could face stiff fines (up to $20 million pounds or 4% of your company's worldwide income). This is a law, and it is enforceable, so that is what makes it so important to understand. 

What kind of data is included?

The regulations include what is called "Personal Data". Basically, the main purpose of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of EU citizens. Personal data is anything that is identifiable to a specific person. It's not just about email addresses. It's about IP addresses of computers, names, addresses, credit card information, and more.

How will it affect my business?

If you are not connecting with or marketing to residents of the EU, you could be safe. However, this doesn't mean that you have EU customers. This includes your customers, your email subscribers, your website and blog visitors, anywhere you have contact with EU citizens is affected. If you are using custom audiences for your Facebook Ads, you will need to be sure your mailing list knows. And if you are using Google Analytics or Facebook pixels on your website, you are collecting cookies and that needs to be made compliant (for EU citizens) as well. 

The GDPR regulations are for data processors and data controllers. , etc. the basis of the GDPR is that it includes data processors and data controllers. The official definitions of these two are:

Data controller:  Article 4 (7) ‘controller’ means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law;

Data processor: Article 4 (8) ‘processor’ means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller;

Data controllers are you, and anyone else who works within your company who has access to the data that is being collected. 

Data processors are the businesses or services you might use to process the data that is being collected.

Simple example: If you have an opt in on your website, and you use Aweber as your email service, and you have Google Analytics activated on your website, YOU are the data controller. Aweber and Google Analytics are the data processors. Make sense? So your data processors are your ecommerce/bookkeeping systems (or services), your email system, etc. 

What do I need to do to comply with GDPR?

Review your processes and update as necessary:

  • Maintain records of the data you are collecting and processing (or having processed on your company's behalf). 
  • Make a list of those who are processing your company data for analytics, mailing lists, marketing, payment processing, online storage systems, web hosts, website, etc.
  • Ensure that you have proof of consent for personal email data (ie mailing list). If you can't prove consent, obtain fresh consent.
  • Implement a system for people to choose the way you can use their data (ie allow them to opt out of any and all forms of retargeting, marketing, segmentation, and communication).
  • Develop a plan to remove stale data from your company's records.
  • Be certain that your business's data processors are GDPR compliant.
  • Educate your employees, subcontractors and partners on your procedures if they are handling your data in any way, or provide a Code of Conduct for them to adhere to.
  • Update your Privacy Policy on your website to include GDPR compliant language (or add a special GDPR addendum to your existing Privacy Policy if you prefer and link it to your existing policy). Add a link to this page on every page of your website, and on your data collection forms (order forms, email opt ins).
  • Update your Terms of Service on your website to include GDPR compliant language. Link your terms page to your Privacy Policy page.
  • If you do use analytics or a Facebook pixel, install a notification (pop up) to tell people their data is being collected when they visit your site.
  • Ensure that your contacts are able to contact you easily if they have they questions about their data that you may be in possession of, or request for their data to be deleted from your possession ('the right to be forgotten').
  • Develop a system to handle a data breach, should it occur.

Get more information:

If you want the whole shebang in plain English, this is the best article we have found to explain it clearly: Varonis (Michael Buckbee): GDP Requirements in Plain English

Suzanne Dibble is a UK lawyer who provides excellent information about GDPR compliance. She has a free checklist here: http://globalava.org/gdpr . She also runs an excellent GDPR specific Facebook group (download her checklist to get an invitation to join it), where you can get specific help.  She also sells a GDPR Compliance Pack that provides all the forms you might need to become compliant, if you want a handy little package (the webinar is very helpful too!) 

The Bottom Line:

Whether you are actively marketing to EU citizens or not, these are good changes to make to your business. It probably won't be long before something like this is rolled out by other countries as well. Data protection is a huge topic of discussion in all areas of business. Don't avoid the whole thing and hope you don't get caught. Do what you need to, to become compliant. Know what data you are collecting, develop good procedures to handle, process and store it, and make sure your connections know that too, and you'll be just fine. 


Disclaimer: The Global Alliance of Virtual Assistants (GAVA) is not an official GDPR resource. GAVA is a educational website and blog, and the information contained within this site in no way constitutes legal advice. Any person who intends to rely upon or use the information contained herein in any way is solely responsible for independently verifying the information and obtaining independent expert advice as required to become GDPR compliant.

*Article sources: Suzanne Dibble (UK Lawyer), Information Commissioners Office (ICO), Varonis Systems Inside Out Security, Europa EU, Wikipedia (definitions), 

Is Finding a Niche Necessary For Your VA Business?

Virtual Assistants who are starting out or struggling often end up asking if they need to find a niche to be successful.

My answer to this question is a definite YES and NO.

Choosing a niche is actually a personal choice, like everything else in your business.

There are advantages and disadvantages to deciding to work with a particular group of people.

What is a niche?

If you’re not sure what I mean by finding a niche, it’s basically choose to segment a group of people to target your networking/marketing/work with. You can choose a group by the industry they are part of (ie travel industry), orby type of person they are (married with families, female solopreneurs) or the service you provide (WordPress websites).

There are so many options to specialize your services.

Usually, the experts will tell you that you need to specialize in order to be successful. I disagree with that because I think that your level of success can only be determined by you.

What do you want to earn?

No one else knows how much money you need to make to live the life you want.

I have never wanted to be a 6 figure VA. I make a comfortable living as a VA and I work as hard as I want to work. But to break through that $100K level doing what I do would mean having a team of people to help me generate more work for clients, which then turns me into a project manager – which I do NOT want to be.

So I have a threshold of income I need to make, and I target to make that each month.

And you can do the same.

Everything is your choice in your business!

If you are making the amount of money you need to make each month and you have good clients that you enjoy working with, then you don’t need to change a thing.

And most certainly if you think you ‘need’ to specialize or you can’t find good clients, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t let anyone tell you that!

But if you do want to build and grow and your vision for your business is to have a lot of people on your team then finding a niche is the fastest way to do that.

Why a niche is a good idea.

There is nothing like networking with a large pool of potential clients who work in the same industry, who need the same services. You can bring on new clients consistently and really hone your skills to be THE go-to person in their community. Great business tactic!

Or deciding to be the BEST WordPress VA around and building a solid clientele of repeat customers. Continuously improving your skills and knowledge so you are highly sought after. Able to set your rates so that you can work with fewer clients and make more money. Or finding a really great service that not too many others offer like this VA.

So is finding a niche really necessary? Yes and No. It totally depends on your perspective. And what you want to do in your business.

Ask yourself THAT question instead, and then decide what's right for you.

But if you are having difficulty finding clients, then maybe looking at a niche is the right thing for you now. For more information about choosing a niche, read this blog post:  How to Choose a Niche and Why it Matters.

Avoiding Negativity Online

Networking online is a great thing. It helps you stay connected with your peers and can make working from home a little less lonely. However, there are some pitfalls to networking online.

On the internet you don’t have face-to-face interaction with people. You also have a larger amount of people to deal with at any one time. Most of the people you’ll meet are anonymous and this anonymity can often create a feeling of freedom in people. Meaning they may not moderate the things they say and often times may behave completely different to how they would behave offline. This can lead to a lot of negativity and often harshness.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid the negative situations that sometimes creep up in the online world.

#1 - Find the right networking group. If you love to visit a specific forum but find that you always leave there feeling worse than when you first logged in, it may be time to cut your losses and find a new group.

Some forums can be very exciting and fast moving but that also tends to draw a large variety of members. At the worst of times, people may get insulting or downright mean. This isn’t really a situation you want to be in, specifically when you need to stay positive in building your business.

The bottom line here is that if you don’t feel good, you should move on. Listen to your gut instincts about what you’re feeling and don’t worry if the specific forum seems to be “the place” to be – if the negativity is too much for you, you’ll be better off building your network elsewhere.

#2 - Read between the lines. Often times, when people write online what they say can be misinterpreted as “harsh” or “negative” when it may not be the case. Remember, online we can’t see people’s gestures or facial expressions so it may be worth not reading too much into what someone is saying.

If you’re in doubt you can always ask them to explain what they mean. You may find they didn’t mean to sound negative in the first place.

#3 – Find a mastermind group. Mastermind groups can be a comforting place to find support and build a strong network, as long as you choose a group of like-minded individuals. Researching and taking the time to find the right mastermind group is worth the time, as the right group may help your business grow in leaps and bounds.

A good mastermind group is worth its weight in gold. You’ll be able to connect with people who are positive and there to help each other. The negativity and playground games get left behind and you can get down to the business of building your business.

#4 – Ignore the situation. There is always someone who ruins it for others. Take the strength away from negative types by simply ignoring them. Enjoy your networking group and look over the few bad apples. With any luck, they’ll get tired and go find a different playground to spend time in.

#5 – Build yourself up. Negativity can be found everywhere we look for it. So perhaps it’s time to look the other way – to positivity. Work on yourself first by visualizing and living the life you want to live. Stay positive about your business and you’ll attract more like-minded people your way, making the negative ones seem insignificant.

Your Marketing Plan Goals Check Up

It’s a good idea to check where you’re at in terms of your marketing plan goals and objectives. Some people check weekly, others do it every month – but you should definitely check at least once per quarter.

Your goals might include revenue, number of sign-ups to your list, number of products sold, number of visitors to your website and blog – and so on. Regardless of what you measure, you want to make sure you take time out regularly to see how you’re doing.

You’re rocking!

If you are humming right along and reaching your objectives - that’s fantastic.

Some questions to ask yourself:

• Have you been working like a mad dog to reach your objectives and can you now slow down a bit?
• If you are easily managing your current level of marketing, are there a couple new tactics that you’d like to add to the plan?
• If there’s extra revenue, is it time to hire a Virtual Assistant, bookkeeper, or other help to free up your time to work on new ideas, products and
services? Or to be able to service the extra clients and business your marketing is bringing in?

You’re sucking!

The reason we have goals and objectives is so we know if we’re meeting them – or not. If you’re not, don’t despair! There are a few things that could be impacting this and you can tweak or change these.

Some questions to ask yourself:

• Have you been doing the tactics on your marketing plan consistently? Did you fall off of your plan?
• Does your plan have enough marketing tactics or are you relying on only one strategy?
• Are you giving prospects enough different ways to reach you?
• Does your marketing message come across loud and clear in all your communications (website, sales letters, emails, ezine, blog, etc.)
• Did you add any new services or products?
• Does your marketing plan have tactics that work off of and build on each other?
• Has your target market or niche changed? Is your marketing still aimed at the “right” market?
• Has there been any dramatic change in the competitive environment that could be impacting you?
• Where in the marketing process are you falling down? Attracting new leads? Converting into clients? Keeping clients?
• Do you need to revise or create new marketing materials? Update your website content? Do an overhaul of your ezine?
• Have you given enough time for the marketing tactics to work? Some tactics take longer to show results than others.

Incorporate regular assessments of your marketing plan goals and progress into your business workdays. There are lots of variables that can affect your success, and by being proactive you can keep on top of any changes, good or not-so-good, and keep heading upwards and onwards!

Why You Need a Niche Market

A niche market can be thought of as a narrowly defined group of potential customers - usually a portion of a larger target market. For example, a target market is working women, but a niche market is working women with kids at home, or working women in executive positions, or working women in the financial sector.

As a small business owner, you usually do not have the money, resources and time to market to a larger target market. You need to focus your marketing efforts on those people most likely to buy what you offer.

Think of narrowing your niche as simply positioning yourself more closely to the people or companies who could benefit most from your services.

Many of us like to believe that the number of people who want and need our product or service has no limit. Also, most of us truly want to help as many people as possible and so therefore believe we almost have an obligation to let everyone know about what we offer.

But the truth of the matter is if a small business tries to market to everyone, they'll eventually lose money and quite possibly go out of business.

I know it seems to go against common sense that we make more money and have more success when we limit the scope of who we market to. However, it is true and its been proven over and over again by very successful small businesses.

There are many reasons why it makes good business and marketing sense to have a niche market:

• you can focus your marketing efforts and not dilute them by trying to appeal to everyone

• it allows you to stand out as an expert in your niche which makes people come to you

• you attract significantly more business

• you have a natural competitive advantage because you can dominate your niche

• your marketing materials and communications are more targeted and therefore more effective

• people more easily refer business to you as they have a very clear idea of who you appeal to

• you can easily determine what opportunities to say yes to and which ones to pass on

• your creativity and strengths get to shine through

• makes it easy to find suitable strategic partners and joint ventures

• you spend less money on getting your message out there because you're not wasting time and resources on talking to people who aren't
interested in what you have

By taking the time (and the deep breath!) to narrow down your target group into a niche market that your company, products and services are best suited to serving, you'll be making a huge investment in a successful future.

Tips for Planning Your Content

As an online business owner, you know that content is one of the best tools you have. It drives traffic. It provides your audience with the value and information they seek. It also helps you market your business, products or services. Content is essential for online marketing success. You can achieve greater success if you take the time to plan your content.

What Is Content Planning?

Content planning is simply the process of taking a look at your calendar and deciding what to write and where to publish it. Content planning involves a few primary criteria:

• When will you publish the content?

• Where will you publish it?

• What will you write about?

• What’s the purpose of the content?

• What are your keywords?

• How can you repurpose the content?

Consider how far ahead you want to plan your content for. Many online business owners take a tiered approach. They plan large content projects for the entire year. For example, they may publish a report each month. They also take a look at their content on a quarterly or monthly level.

If you don’t plan your content or are struggling to plan it effectively, consider the following tips:

Use a calendar that gives you a big picture and you can write on. A paper desk calendar is a great planning tool. You can write your content ideas in pencil for easy modifications. Then, if you prefer electronic organization, you can transfer the paper plan to your Outlook or e-calendar.

Plan how you’ll integrate your content into your marketing strategy. For example, you could decide that in March you’re going to publish ten articles on article directories. You’ll also want to make sure this content ties into any season or holiday.

Ensure that the content you post supports any new products or services you are offering. Content must have a purpose. It may be simply to drive traffic to your website. Or it may be to drive traffic to a sales page or increase your opt-ins.

Leave room for change. The best content plans leave room for inspiration. The greatest ideas often come out of the blue. If you’re a stickler for your plan and don’t allow room to add your content inspiration into the mix, then you’re missing out.

Finally, don’t forget to take a look at how you can repurpose your content. It’s not only a great way to get the most return on investment, it can help fill content gaps.

When you plan your content, make sure you’re looking at both the macro and micro picture. Make sure you look ahead and take the entire year into consideration. At the same time, plan your content right down to the keywords and topics.

Planning your content for the entire year may take a day or two to accomplish but it’ll save you tons of time down the road. Instead of wondering what you’re going to write on, you’ll have the answers all worked out. Best of all, your content will fit with your other marketing efforts to create a comprehensive business growth plan.

Why Every VA Needs An Online Presence

Building a VA business? Great! Congratulations! Being self-employed is a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle. Before you get too far into that business plan, are you planning on having a website? If you’re going to be a virtual assistant, you need one. Here’s why:

Your Clients are Online

You’re a virtual assistant. Emphasis on virtual. That means your business operates online. Via the internet, email and perhaps instant messaging and conferencing. If you’re without an online presence, you’re missing out on clients. The majority of your clients will be online business owners. That means they’re very Internet focused. They’ll turn to the internet first to search for a provider.

Now that’s not to say that you won’t have local clients. You might. However, they’ll still likely search for you online. It’s how our society buys products and services.

Your Website Establishes Your Credibility

Many VA tasks are focused on the Internet. You might be managing a blog or forum. You might be proofreading and uploading articles into article directories. You might be managing affiliates for a business. All of those tasks require a good degree of comfort using online technology. Your website helps demonstrate your ability to use the internet. It demonstrates that you’re comfortable online and skilled with using technology.

If you don’t have a website, many of your clients may wonder why not. They may simply disregard you because you’re not online.

Your Website Markets Your Services

Your website accomplishes a number of marketing tactics. It communicates your services and fees. It answers any questions a prospect might have about your services, practices and policies. It also showcases your personality. You’ll likely have an “About Me” page. This is useful for telling your story. However, the word choice, design and feel of your site also helps communicate your personality and brand your business.

Your website can also broadcast your successes. You can list your testimonials. You can cite awards you’ve earned. You can communicate organizations you’re a part of. You can also list the companies you’ve worked with. All of this helps establish you as a credible service provider. Your website can be used to build trust with your prospects.

Finally, you can use your website to facilitate many of your business functions. Communications, payments and even inquiries can be managed through your website. You can also use your website to generate more income by affiliating with products or services and by selling advertisement space.

In short, if you’re going to be a Virtual Assistant, do it the right way. Create a website that helps you build and grow your dream business.

How to Make Time for Marketing

To start getting business and success, you must make time for marketing. Most small business owners and solopreneurs know this…let's face it, they've heard it over and over again.

Virtual assistants are no different. We are often so busy doing client work that we run out of time to do our own marketing.

People insist that they don't have enough time to do everything, and certainly not to do marketing!

I know that it's tough – believe me it's the same for me sometimes. But I have seen the results when I do make time to market and so that keeps me finding time, even when it seems impossible.

I have also seen the results that other successful business owners get…and it's because they make marketing their #1 priority.

If you've made marketing a low priority, here are some things for you to do TODAY to start to change that:

• go to your calendar, make a 30 minute block every second day, for the next month and label it: Do Marketing!

• turn off your email/phone/social media and work uninterrupted for 20 minutes on making simple connections on social media, or on follow up from an event you have recently attended.

• make a list of your time-wasters during the day (internet surfing, computer games, yakking with friends, surfing Facebook) and the next time you start to do one of these activities, stop and do a marketing task instead: call a client, jot down 5 ideas for new articles, write a blog post, research a guest for your next teleseminar, write a special email to your list, etc.

• take a look at all the ezines you get and ruthlessly start unsubscribing – keep only the ones you actually open, read and take action on.

Marketing is an ongoing process for you for the lifetime of your business. The sooner you start cultivating consistent marketing habits, the sooner you'll start reaping the rewards you want.

Try taking these small steps...they may seem big, but they are doable. With consistent effort you will see consistent results – attracting more clients and prospects than you think!

You will also feel really good about your ability to market effectively and this increased confidence will show throughout all areas of your business and personal life.

So what are you waiting for?! Get going on those steps….

Marketing Activities You Need to Schedule

Scheduling your marketing activities is key to ensuring you are consistently and successfully getting the word out about you and your company and all the great services and products you have to share with people.

There are several formats that people use to schedule things – to- do lists, activity lists, calendar items, list of projects, sticky notes all over their desk, and so on. It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as it works for you.

There are going to be three general types of marketing activities that you'll want to put into your schedule:

Ongoing everyday marketing activities include those that you do regularly.

Some examples are:

1. writing your ezine

2. adding new auto-responders to your email series

3. writing blog posts

4. contributing to online forums and blogs

5. networking events

6. writing content for your monthly teleseminar

7. adding content to your website

8. writing articles for submission

9. checking your website analytics

10. communicating with your affiliates

11. sending out press releases

12. networking on social media sites such as Facebook and Linked In

Specific one-time projects would be marketing tactics that occur as a special or one-time opportunity. For example:

1. a workshop you're putting on

2. creating a new product

3. setting up a referral program

4. a joint venture with another company

5. flushing out the specifics of a new service you're going to offer

6. a speaker series you've been invited to share at

7. setting up your affiliate program

8. running a special promotion

9. writing a book

10. a new website

11. setting up a blog

Time set aside for idea generation is important. You need to schedule this in just like any other marketing activity. Things you'll "think" about during this time can include:

1. researching possible joint venture partners

2. thinking about ideas for a new product, service or book

3. taking a look at some colleagues websites and blogs to see what they are up to

4. daydreaming about the direction you'd like your company to go

5. brainstorming about your professional and personal goals

Write down a list of all the different marketing activities you currently do and start scheduling them into your calendar and to-do lists. Make sure you look at your schedule first thing in the morning and different times throughout the day to make sure that you're staying on course.

Commit to your marketing by having a schedule and you'll see your business grow and attract new and old clients on a consistent basis.