What are your top 3 ways for finding new clients?

LizsVAServices

New Member
Hi y'all! I am struggling to find clients for my virtual consultant business. I have a focus on newsletter creation, wordpress website maintenance and social media posts. (I've done a lot of web-related work for coaches, bloggers and entrepreneurs.)
I'm sending out newsletters, and trying to market myself on Craigslist but I'm just having a tough time out there.
Here is what has worked for me so far:
1) Craigslist Ads (I got a transcription client this way but he only needed 1 task completed and that was it.)
2) Word of mouth/referrals from friends
3) Previous clients I've worked with that have come back for random tasks

So, I must ask my fellow VAs, what were your top 3 ways for finding clients? I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster... one week I have clients who come around and other weeks I have nothing...

Any advice is appreciated. I am reading through the forum posts as well and will probably pick up Tess's book about becoming a VA. I used to be a Developer and I completely changed my view so the VA business is new to me.

~Liz :computer: ---> That's me, frustrated
 

On My Wings

Member
Hi Liz -

Hopefully, this information will add some insight.

1) Personally, I have never liked the idea of using Craigslist for my business. At best I'd find people who wouldn't value what I had to offer and wanted to get me "on the cheap," such as the guy who wanted you for a one time small task, and at worst I attracted creepy crawlers. :)

2) Word of mouth is awesome, so I'd keep that on your list of marketing strategies - but just make sure that these people know exactly how to refer you. Give them a script. They'll love it because they won't have to think about what to say.

3) Previous clients are great. Are you getting testimonials from them that you can add on your website? If you aren't already doing this, I'd recommend going to Nancy Juetten's website (authenticvisibility[dot]com) and search for her information that offers advise on how to ask for testimonials, and gives the people giving the testimonial some guidance, so they don't have to try to figure out what to say. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll try to dig it up.

Beyond that, there's a lot of strategies you could implement, and it is going to depend highly on who your target market is. While, no doubt, you'll get a lot of great advice from other VA's you may want to keep in mind that what works for them might not work for you because they may have different niches and different target markets.

For instance, being active on LinkedIn will likely prove to be very important to your marketing strategy. Doing some level of Facebook Ads (done very strategically and properly so you don't spend a lot of money) have worked well for me in the past (not currently using FB much though), but it's important to know what to have on your Facebook page to start with, so when people respond to your ad they find the right kind of content (i.e. not sales talk). Tweet a LOT. I have also found networking to be huge in my business.

So...my recommendation is to get Tess's book, for sure. I got it years ago and I don't know what I would've done without it. And also maybe take Michelle Mangen's complimentary course to that.

Some other resources that have helped me tremendously, and are relatively low-cost (and some free stuff) are at >> arealchange[dot]com and also Amy Porterfield has some great stuff.
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
Hello,

I had four top ways to find clients when I first started my business:

  • Request for Proposals or RFPs - get one new client, which led to several other referrals
  • Proposals I submitted from traditional job sites that I 'turned' into virtual opportunities
  • Social Media, primarily LinkedIn. Twitter and Facebook groups
  • Referrals from the clients I worked with through RFPs

Now clients find me. In fact I had someone contact me yesterday who
saw my blog post on LinkedIn's Pulse.

Janine
 

LizsVAServices

New Member
Pam and Janine, thank you so much for your advice and help! Pam, it's funny you mention about your Craigslist experiences. I have also run into those same issues, especially with a few people who insisted on trying to meet me outside of the office. It's definitely a bit sketchy. I'm going to check out the sites and references you mentioned too. I think social media is big and testimonials are too. I am missing out on those.
I appreciate your help and responses. Thank you both so much. :)
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Always always my best source of clients has been and is referrals from existing and previous clients. I have learned not to be shy about asking for them!

Second, lately I will reply to RFPs when they seem like a really good fit. Janine is spot on about that particular option. Check out Virtual Assistantville (that's where all viable RFPs that come into this network land). Michelle Mangen also has a free list you can sign up to to learn about potential clients who contact her - she asks VAs who do get hired by clients she sends out to sign a referral contract at X% which is more than fair - that's another great potential resource!
 

LizsVAServices

New Member
Great, thank you Tess!!! :) I tend to be shy so I'll have to get over asking for referrals! I'm jumping over to Virtual Assistantville now. Thanks for all the help. These forums are lifesavers!
 

Susankelly

New Member
For me, the most lucrative thing has been local networking. Second is RFP's. When I was first starting out, a lot of seasoned VA's told me how much they hated local clients; "they treat you like an employee."

So I parrotted that and said to friends and family: NO local clients I'm not an employee.

Finding clients via social media is slow going or at least it has been for me. So my mom who lovingly calls me "bossy" (my friends are more careful and say, "assertive") said,"try local networking and just tell them what the score is, you are not going to have problems with that."

How right mom was. My first networking event I got a client. I'd say about 80% of my clients are local and I've found most of them thru networking (or referrals). In the beginning, I was adamant about being virtual. I made it clear to my local clients I was ONLY virtual and they were all fine with that. They did not treat me like an employee (you will only be treated that way if you allow it) Then one of my very best local clients said: "if you won't be occasionally on-site do you know someone who would?"

That scared me a bit, he was one of my best clients and I didn't want to lose him to someone else. I asked what he was looking for and how often. It was minimal and interesting work, usually not at his office but out and about locally. I thought long and hard about it and told him I'd try it.

I charge WAY more out of the office and I start the clock from the minute I walk out of the house to the minute I get back in. And I have a few clients that are now willing to pay for that. Again, it's not often and I only do it for tasks I'll really enjoy (for example I'd never go and organize someone's office). But it's been interesting for me, I'm out and about meeting new people (and sometimes clients) and I've learned a few new skills this way. And like I said, I'm charging a lot and they didn't blink at the price.

So my advice on the local thing is do what works for you. If you don't think you'd be good at saying NO, then maybe it's not for you. My mom says for the first 4 years of my life the only word I said was NO. ;) So for me it's easy. I love my local clients. And BTW, that first client that asked me to do some out of my office work has recommended me to so many new clients I can't begin to tell ya. That's the very best thing about running my own business I get to structure it how I please.
 

niftyadmin

New Member
Susan - I just wanted to say your response was very inspiring. I have been very hesitant in marketing myself locally but after reading this I'm going to go for it. Thank you!
 

SaraD

New Member
I second 'arealchange' website. Twitter works for me. Conversations with people with no expectation of a sale works too.

I recommend ElanorStrong[dot]com's 3-Month Biz Blueprint. She does an excellent job of helping people find a very targeted market for their product/services. She has a group on FB that is very helpful too.

I'm actually not sure how my current client found me (I do have some ideas) but I enjoy working for her. I'll need to get feedback from her when this assisignment ends at the end of the month. :)
 

MaplewoodVA

New Member
Hi Liz,

Are you open to some honest feedback regarding your website and how you may be able to finesse things to attract more clients?
 

MaplewoodVA

New Member
Hi Liz,

Sounds good. I have two suggestions.

1) Numerous places on your About page you use the word "I" but not once have you included your full name or photo. I encourage you to truly introduce yourself by including your name and face.
2) Not sure if you wrote the copy on your About page but if you did I encourage you to add a blog to your website. The copy on this site is fun to read and showcases some personality. Write your blog posts in the same style. Blogging is a fantastic way to showcase you, what you know, and talk about how your services fit into what clients are searching for.

Over the years I've gained numerous clients from blogging on my site as well as being a feature blogger on other colleague's blogs with my own topical column.

~Ruth
 

LizsVAServices

New Member
Hi Ruth,

I appreciate your advice and thanks so much for the kind words! I wrote the entire copy on my own, so I really appreciate your compliment. :)

I'll def. have to get a photo and full name up there. I hesitated to do this at first, but after seeing suggestions, I think it is necessary. I really appreciate your friendliness and advice. If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know!

~Liz
 

MaplewoodVA

New Member
You're welcome, Liz.

For many of us we never get the pleasure of meeting our clients in person. Having our photo and full name on the website is a small way to make the introduction easier for them to get to know us.

I have clients I've worked with for years and have never met nor spoken on the phone with more than once; some I've never even had a phone call with. Each client and communication style can be different.
 
Hi Liz.

I also found at least one spelling error on your website. Somewhere on your ABOUT page you have "per say". It's actually "per se". (Per se is Latin meaning "in and of itself")

I really do like your website, especially when you say "I don't bite". It's definitely original and I can tell you have a lot of energy and enjoy what you do. :sunny:
 

LizsVAServices

New Member
Hi Liz! Thanks so much for letting me know. I've been changing a lot of site content, and I try to stay on top of the spelling. I am fixing this right now! I appreciate your help and kind words. Thank you so much. :)
 

carterevansvs

New Member
I've had the same question as I've just recently taken on my business full time. Currently, all of my clients have been from word of mouth/referrals. I haven't had much recent success on Facebook but I've made some headway using periscope. Also, now that I'm no longer working my full time job I've had an opportunity to get out and network locally. I know it's a process but I'm extremely eager to land that one regular client. Your responses have all been great and I'm writing down these suggestions.
 
Tess is spot on about not being shy to ask.

I could write a laundry list of things I received just by asking, not the least of which was to be a VIP guest of the General's wife at a military ball. (of course it helped that I was a volunteer)

What's the worst that can happen? They'll say no?
 
Hi Liz,

I know this was some time ago, but I really like your website. I was wondering what WordPress Theme did you use? I have been researching different WP themes that as my business grows, I can grow into. Thanks and much continue success!

Your Hands of Excellence,
Sonja Sells
 
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