If you’ve decided that working 9-5 isn’t for you, the good news is you’re not alone. In fact, you can join the thousands of people already working online with their own schedule. One of the best ways to do so is by becoming a virtual assistant.
Becoming a virtual assistant is one of the most common and most accessible methods for breaking into the remote workforce — it’s also one of the most flexible.
As a virtual assistant, you get freedom — the freedom to choose your hours, your work location, what services you offer, and even who you work with. Essentially, you become your own boss!
However, all good things come with a cost. In this case, that means your newfound freedom comes with new challenges, one of the biggest being finding clients as a virtual assistant.
Getting Prepared to Find Clients as a VA
Just like any job, being a virtual assistant means you have to demonstrate your skills, experience, and accomplishments to potential employers. However, unlike an ordinary full-time job, a traditional resume might not always be sufficient when pitching your services as a virtual assistant.
Speaking of your services, identifying those and your rates are entire tasks of their own! Before you pitch to clients, you should be prepared to explain just how you can assist them (your services), as well as the cost to do so (your rates).
Depending on your niche you may need to have additional materials to accompany your resume such as a portfolio, testimonials/recommendations, a LinkedIn page, writing samples, and/or anything else that could be used to demonstrate your skillset as a VA. One of the best ways to do this is by having a professional website.
It’s important to make note of the standards in your industry and meet them before you start pitching to potential clients — no matter how excellent your pitch is, you must be prepared to supply clients with proof of your skills and experience.
While it might feel tedious, having a professional website with well-written copy can make or break your credibility, and subsequently, your success as a virtual assistant.
Once you’ve established your credibility as a virtual assistant, you’re now ready to start searching for clients. That means the next question is, where do you look for clients as a virtual assistant?
Finding Clients as a Virtual Assistant
Similar to the process of job hunting, the search for clients as a virtual assistant can be both stressful and even paralyzing if you don’t know where to look. Fortunately, we’re here to give you all of our best advice on finding VA clients.
Freelancer Sites and Job Boards
Probably one of the most commonly known places to look for virtual assistant roles are freelancer sites and job-boards. Simply going to these sites and searching with the proper keywords can lead you to a plethora of individuals searching for a VA.
Some of the most popular freelancing sites for VAs are:
- WAHM.com (Work at Home Moms)
Each of these sites can be worthwhile for VAs who are searching for clients, but they also have their disadvantages. For example, many of these platforms charge usage fees that can get pricey as you increase your rates. Keep this in mind when choosing where and how to start pitching to prospective clients.
As mentioned, virtual assistants also have the option to use job boards in their client search. In some ways, job boards, even those not designed for freelancers, are more advantageous than freelance marketplace sites. Some of the reasons are:
- Job boards are typically free, whereas freelancer sites typically charge platform fees
- Unlike freelancer sites, job boards don’t require you to sign up and/or create a profile to apply to postings
- There are no bids, eliminating some of the competitive nature
- You don’t have to worry about maintaining a 5-star rating.
- Typically the clients are more credible and better paying
- Gigs are often more long-term projects
On the flip-side, clients who utilize job boards are often looking for high-end talent. Meaning, they only hire highly experienced VAs. For this reason, job boards are not the ideal place to search for clients if you’re just starting to break into the virtual assistant business.
Here are some of the best job boards for finding jobs as a VA:
- Indeed Remote Jobs
- LinkedIn Jobs
- Working Nomads
- LinkedIn ProFinder
- We Work Remotely
Many of these job boards also have options to set up alerts for job postings with specific keywords and/or give you the option to receive weekly newsletters with some of the best job postings.
According to more experienced VAs, using these kinds of notification services can really help to make the process more manageable and more successful, especially if you have a niche.
Facebook groups have been rising in popularity in recent years for both entertainment purposes and professional purposes. We’re living in the era of social media and professional networking is now more digital than ever.
Falling behind only LinkedIn, Facebook is the leading social media platform for business and professional networking, much of which is thanks to its groups feature. As a result, Facebook groups can be a valuable place for virtual assistants to network with and identify potential clients.
Most simply, you can join Virtual Assistant Facebook groups that offer daily or weekly job postings. Doing so is beneficial not only because of the job lists, but because of the resources and sense of community that they provide to VAs.
Becoming friends with other VAs might not seem like the best way to find clients, but you never know who is a potential client — VAs outsource and give referrals for work all the time!
In addition to dedicated VA groups, you can also find digital nomad groups, remote work groups, freelance groups, and other entrepreneur-focused groups on Facebook to join and network within.
If you have a niche, like writing, graphic design, or e-commerce, you can find more niche-focused groups to aid your client search even further.
Some of the most popular Facebook groups for virtual assistants and/or freelancers are:
- Virtual Assistant Savvies (~ 74K members)
- Virtual Assistant Jobs (~ 53K members)
- Digital Nomads Jobs – Remote Work From Anywhere (~ 146K members)
- Virtual Assistant Connections (~16K members)
- Female Digital Nomads (~71K members)
- VA Handbookers (~18K members)
- Virtual Assistant Networking Group (~19K members)
- Your Virtual Assistant BFF (~6K members)
- Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board (~29K members)
- VA for Hire – Content for Bloggers (~8K members)
- Virtual Assistant Tips, Tricks & Advice (~18K members)
- The Virtual Assistant Club (~6.5K members)
- Freelancing Females (~58K members)
- Rockstar Bloggers and Virtual Assistants (~2.5K members)
- Digital Nomad Girls Community (~33K members)
Many of the groups above, and other professional networking groups on Facebook have designated days for self-promo. These days can be a valuable opportunity for you to connect with potential clients and get your name out there. However, be careful that you do not self-promote in groups that prohibit it, or you will likely be removed.
When networking on Facebook, remember that you’re using your Facebook account. Ensure that it is updated with your most recent job title and that you have removed anything you wouldn’t want a potential client viewing.
My last bit of advice for VAs looking for clients in Facebook groups is to refrain from being too salesy. If these people were interested in receiving cold pitches, they probably wouldn’t be using a platform like Facebook. Consider your audience and use your best judgment.
While it might seem old-school, live networking events can be a great way for you to connect with potential clients. Small-business networking events, professional meet-ups, conferences, and other networking events are great for VAs because they’re often full of potential clients — clients who are willing to network.
To reiterate, networking events are great for VAs not only because they do the hard part for you by putting a bunch of potential clients right in front of you, but also because they normalize (and even encourage) self-promotion. For VAs looking for clients, that’s a winning combination.
If you’re not sure how to identify networking events, here’s a list of common networking events you can search for:
- Conferences/trade shows (either general or industry-specific)
- Industry-specific seminars
- Happy hour meetups (in-person or virtual)
- Career fairs
- Speed networking events
- Professional workshops
- Breakfast or luncheon meetings
As for where to find specific networking events, start with social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, but when all else fails, Google will be your best friend.
While they aren’t the most favorable method of finding clients, cold pitches are an option for VAs trying to find clients. However, it’s important to note that unless carefully executed, cold pitches often come across as inauthentic and make you seem desperate for work — not exactly a client-winning combination.
Despite the downsides, there can be several circumstances in which cold pitching makes sense for VAs:
- VA roles in your industry aren’t commonly posted on job boards
- You’re uncomfortable with selling and need more experience pitching yourself to clients
- There’s a particular industry or particular company you want to work in
- You came across an individual or business that you feel strongly you can help
If you find yourself in one of these scenarios, cold pitching might be an okay option for you to pursue. In this case, do your best to make the pitch personalized and heavily focused on how you can help them (not the other way around), while making sure to provide enough information about yourself that you come across as credible.
With this, keep in mind that even the most qualified individuals are not guaranteed any success with cold-pitching. Meaning, you’re better off exhausting your other options before resorting to the cold-pitch method.
To recap, VAs not only have schedule flexibility and freedom to provide the services they want, but they also have many different options for finding clients, and thus securing employment. They have several choices and can either go the traditional route with job boards, go the popular route and utilize freelance marketplaces, go the less conventional route and rely on social networking with platforms like Facebook,
Not only do virtual assistants have the ability to choose their roles, their schedule, and their clients, but they also have the option to choose where and how they connect with potential clients.
Although this freedom and flexibility appeals to many virtual assistants, it can also present challenges as the infinite choices can make it difficult to determine your next steps.
If you relate to this and feel intimidated by all the options and aren’t sure where to go next, here are some tips to help guide you through the client search.
Be prepared for ‘old-school’ and ‘new-school’ clients.
Be prepared with the relevant materials and information so that you’re an appealing candidate to any type of client, old-fashioned or more modern. What that looks like for you might depend on your industry, but a good rule of thumb is to have physical copies of your resume and business card for old-school clients, a LinkedIn profile, and an SEO and ATS-optimized resume on file for new-school clients.
Have a professional website.
When finding clients, whether they’re more traditional or more contemporary, you’ll fare better if you have a professional website. What it contains might depend on your areas of expertise and your experience level, but it should show how you would be an asset to potential clients, demonstrate your skills and credibility, and provide all the necessary information and tools for clients to connect with you. Get started now with our pre-built website templates. We have options that are perfect for VAs of any industry, skill set, and experience level.
View everyone as a potential client.
Don’t ever stop talking about what you do for a living. Not only will it help you get more confident in talking about your skills (which is great for the client search) but just telling people about your business can lead to unimaginable opportunities. Remember that you never know who might need your services.
Keep your discovery pitches simple.
Keeping your discovery pitches simple, short, and direct is highly important for people trying to get clients as a virtual assistant. Generally speaking, people looking to hire a virtual assistant are busy people — they are hiring someone to help them save time, after all! Because of this, concise pitches are best because they save you both time, which shows you’re both efficient and accommodating of their busy schedule.
Short pitches are more difficult to execute, but our advice is that instead of listing all your services, tell prospective clients exactly what you’ll do to help them as a virtual assistant. If you’re still stuck on how to pitch to clients, our pitch templates are a great place to start.
Be kind to yourself, and know when to ask for help.
Starting a career as a virtual assistant is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time. Even established virtual assistants get anxious about going out and pitching to new clients. That’s why it’s important to be kind to yourself and to use the help and resources available to you. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself, and you don’t have to do it alone. Remember your worth and remember why you started.
I am the founder of VIRTUALCOPIA Business Collective and a self-employment enthusiast. I hope to inspire others to take a leap into their own entrepreneurial journeys while providing resources and support, and facilitating a community.