Need clients? - Now what??

mwill287

New Member
Ok, my website is complete, I have business cards ready - Now what? I'm feeling a little lost at the moment and just sitting on the fence. I know I should be doing more to market my business, but my budget is next to nothing. I need more skills to be competitive I think, which of course takes money - which I barely have. I was close to signing my first real contact this weekend but of course they want to try before they buy.

Question #1 - What are some effective ways to market that are also affordable to get clients?

Question #2- How do you make it clear to a prospect (without being pushy) that you need a signed contract before working for them?

Question #3- Did any of you take training courses before going full fledge with your business?

Thanks for comments
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
Ok, my website is complete, I have business cards ready - Now what? I'm feeling a little lost at the moment and just sitting on the fence. I know I should be doing more to market my business, but my budget is next to nothing. I need more skills to be competitive I think, which of course takes money - which I barely have. I was close to signing my first real contact this weekend but of course they want to try before they buy.

Question #1 - What are some effective ways to market that are also affordable to get clients?

Question #2- How do you make it clear to a prospect (without being pushy) that you need a signed contract before working for them?

Question #3- Did any of you take training courses before going full fledge with your business?

Thanks for comments
Hello,

Here are some replies to your questions:

#1 - Blogging, social media, networking, volunteering your services, subcontracting with another VA and creating a newsletter email list are some great marketing tools that are either free or low-cost.

If you can add an email sign up list with a free email program such as MadMimi or MailChimp, and offer something valuable in return such as a tips list or a 'how to' video, this will become your most valuable internet option because people willingly offer their name and email. It's called 'permission marketing'.

#2 - Don't worry about being 'pushy'. You need to have your business policies in place, perhaps in the form of a Welcome Packet that includes the contract requirement. Also, in the client consultation process, simply say you require a contract and a deposit for your services. People will be fine with a contract and you will protect yourself and the client's interests with a well-written client. An ideal client will expect that you use a contract.

#3 - I am always 'in-self-training' mode taking whatever training I can get in the form of a webinar, a YouTube video or blog reading. The only training I took was Marisa Murgatroyd's Message to Money course, which I am sorry I didn't have access to when I first started. There are wonderful training courses such as Michelle Mangen's Jump Start program that is featured in the VAF store and I most certainly would have taken that course had it been offered at the time I opened my virtual doors.

Best of luck to you!

Janine
 

mwill287

New Member
Thanks Janine! Here I am offering SEO as one of my services and I feel like I don't know where to begin self promoting myself. My concern is posting the wrong information or stuff they've seen before which wouldn't be useful... but I will give it a try.
 

Susankelly

New Member
Janine wrapped it up with her post!

I'm always advocating local networking because it's where most of my clients come from. Check with your local Chamber's of Commerce and see if they have after work networking events. Our's are hosted at a local business (often restaurants but not always) and you go and chit chat with other local business people. Around here you do NOT have to be a member of the Chamber to attend them, if you're not a member they charge a small fee to offset the appetizers they supply. ($5-$10.)

Unless you're a big social butterfly (I'm not) the first time you go can be awkward. it was for me but I got a glass of wine and went up to almost everyone that was also standing alone (not a lot these Chamber types go to every one of these events so it was clear many knew each other). I'd say, "I see you're alone too but you must know more people than I do because I don't know a soul!"

With that opener they'd either introduce me to someone they knew or said it was their first time at an event too. Either way the next question everyone asked was what do you do? So I got to give my elevator speech and hear theirs. I made a point of getting a business card of every single person I spoke with.

The very next morning I emailed the people whose cards I had. I said it was nice meeting them and I'd like to stay connected with them. I mentioned that when (not if) I came across someone who needed their services I'd mention them and hoped they would do the same for me. I'd add in a sentence or two about what I do (very short, subtle sell). Everyone emailed me back with very positive responses:" So nice of you to take the time to email" / "I've been to many Chamber events and not once has anyone followed up" / I'll keep my eyes open for people that can use your services" /

Many VA's get business off of social media, I'm starting to put more effort into that and see what I can drum up from it! Keep at it.
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
MW,

You should know who your target customer is that needs SEO. This is the most vital piece of marketing. You cannot market to everyone. People will not 'see' their problems in your marketing if you do not center your message toward a specific market. Once you know who your ideal client may be, then I kid you not, but your marketing all falls into place.

Don'y worry about giving information people have already seen. Anything you say or write or reply to is unique to you even if it has been said over and over 100 times over.

I have answered this same question at least 50 times on this forum through the years and each and every time I say the same thing in a different way targeted only to the person I am responding to.

Take a risk...jump in feet first...what will you lose?

Janine
 

DebbieFAW

New Member
I'm in the same boat, so thank you Janine and Susan!
You provided some great tips that I will surely apply. Let's see what happens!
 

VBA Support

New Member
It can be very overwhelming to start with.

I have joined A Clayton's Secretary and I always reply to any job I can do. I have helped out other VA's and I ensure my quality is work is excellent so that they come back to me :)

I haven't had any success with social media yet, but I think eventually I will.
 

ljadminsupport

New Member
Aloha MW,

Thank you so much for asking those 3 questions. I just launched my business this past summer, however, I've been somewhat overwhelmed and hesitant with the marketing process.

Thank you Janine and Susan for being mentors to a newbie such as myself. Your tips and suggestions have been thoughtful and helpful to this tentative girl. So far my marketing efforts has only yielded only one prospective client. I'll step out of my zone & see what happens. Linda
 

DonnaLS

Member
Happy holidays everyone! I have read a lot of great tips here for getting clients such as having an online presence and attending networking events, but for those of you who work full time with families, how do you make it work? Do you find cold calling a good option? I am having a difficult time finding my first client but really want to make this business work.
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
Hello Donna L,

I never found cold calling to be a worthwhile option. People buy from those they trust and cold calling doesn't allow for development of a trusting relationship.

What works is having an online presence and networking as you mentioned in your post. These are activities that can be worked on working full and with having a family.

My first suggestion is to understand who your targeted client may be. Who do you want to work with and what skills can you offer this market? Once you know this information, your online presence needs to come together to answer the call for this market. Describe how you are the solution to the problems this market may have.

Continue to network through social media, a blog, and using RFPs (there are free RFPs here on Virtual Assistant Forums). Begin by working with others and obtain testimonials which you can add to your website. This improves the credibility of your online presence.

Managing your time while working and caring for a family is possible.

Post back if you had additional questions.

Janine
 

DonnaLS

Member
Thank you Janine! Great advice. I really need to make an effort to get out and start networking and also blogging. So much to do... I jut want to get started now and have clients knocking at my door!
 

PandoraH

New Member
Re: Need clients? - Print Media in 2015

I have a question related to this thread, in regards to the logistics of "making yourself known" to a fairly small specific niche who:

1. Are VERY Internet savvy
2. Most have company owners who have LinkedIn Accounts
3. Some work out of their homes
4. Rather small companies, less then 10 primaries on-site.

I know for sure LI is going to be part of my equation. Having said this, when I was learning Internet Marketing tactics, one common theme was "you have to do several things all the time to get on the first page of Google". This is still true today, at least if you want to STAY on the first page of Google.

This leads me to think that some print media will be required. I don't drive, but I can get to a post office. Is this still a viable option in 2015?
 

HeathB

New Member
Sorry this is so long.
I know this is an older thread, but I still really need all the great info here! I'm just starting up and I'm just overwhelmed at trying to figure out where to even start to get clients. I want to focus on authors, and as a book blogger I do have access to some of them, but I'm on the fringes of their world, and while I'd love to have some of them as clients, I'm hesitant to change my current relationship from "blogger I can trust" to "pushy VA constantly trying to sell to me". I'm on LI, but I haven't done much with it. It's frustrating to try and make connections since you can only connect with people you know.

I'm going to a book convention next month and I'm going to sponsor a raffle basket with some promotional items and leave my card all over the place. I went last year as a blogger and made some great contacts, and this year I want to go as a VA with the same result.

I haven't done a lot on Facebook because I'm friends with a lot of my current co-workers. Upwork doesn't seem to have much that's legit and willing to pay more than a few $$ per hour. I'm trying to find some volunteer opportunities just to get some experience and testimonials I can showcase.

I'm going to do as Susan Kelly suggested and go to some local events. I looked into my local Chamber of Commerce, but the membership is about $800/year, which just isn't in the budget right now. Unfortunately, a lot of their events are lunch events, which I can't really do while I'm still working full-time, but I'll do the ones I can.

I want to start blogging and get myself out there, but my first thought is "I'm brand new to this. I have nothing to say!" which I know is pretty self-defeating.

I guess I'm not really asking for advice as much as just empathizing with others who are struggling to find those first clients. I feel like if I can get one solid client, then I can get others, but that first one is so hard!!
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Hi Heather, first :) don't ever feel the need to apologize for writing at length on the forums - the whole point of this site is communication and brainstorming and we can't do that effectively without putting our thoughts to words.

That said - I don't necessarily think that people are going to see you as 'pushy' (unless you really actually are) you have the benefit of already being a part of this community and network and you are simply translating your unique (and valuable) insight as well as your skill set to a new way of adding to that community.

I don't think it's a negative that you're seeing a business opportunity here and as long as you go into it with the actual ability to back up your service offerings with awesome results, then more power to you!

SO many VAs have transitioned to working for themselves withing an existing market they're already a part of in some way.

So do go into that convention prepared to walk the talk and know what you have on offer - because the chances are that you will leave there with a new client or at least some interest if you do! Confidence is key. You know what you have to offer to this market - can you communicate it clearly?

Aside from that, I think being vocal about what you're doing when you're at these other events you're looking to participate in is a good start.

You might also consider reaching out to local authors and writers (or just other entrepreneurs to start making connections) through a networking group like Meetup or similar.

Clients will come to you through the most unusual places as soon as you decide you're really doing this and start marinating in the mindset that your business will be successful and that you're super good at what you do (again, confidence!).

I once had someone try to hire me in line at a grocery store after a casual conversation turned to what I do. The same has happened in yoga classes, at parties, and more. Not all of those people turned out to be a good fit and not all of them contracted me - but you get my point :)

Also, just asking other people to refer you is a superb way to grow your potential client base. If you have colleagues, know authors who aren't looking for a VA but might know someone who could use you etc etc

Don't give up and don't be shy! You'll get there....

(how's that for long?) ;)
 
Hi Heather,

I'm also new to being a business owner. I haven't officially launched yet, but I've been working on it for a while now (too long LOL) and am finally finishing up my web site.

I just created a business profile on Facebook, and my research tells me that if you create a business page, your friends on your personal page won't be able to see it (you just need to make sure that when you post/like/share anything on your business page, you do it as your business and not yourself). There are tutorials on YouTube on how to set one up.

You may also want to check out your local SBDC. Mine offers occasional free training sessions which are also good for networking (although they are usually during workdays). They also have an annual training/networking event that only costs $20. I went last year and made a few contacts (although I wasn't ready for clients yet) and will be attending again this year. The SBDC also offers free business coaching if that's something you're interested in.
 

HeathB

New Member
Thanks so much, Tess & Wendy! I'll definitely look into my local SBDC and into creating that Facebook business page. I have one for my blog, and I think that was pretty easy to set up.

I'm just going to have to change my mindset from employee to business owner. I fully admit that putting myself out there isn't a strength of mine, but I'm going to have to do it.

Thanks for the advice!
 
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