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Be A Virtual Assistant From Home

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virtual assistantHow to Start a Virtual Assistant Business and Work From Home.

It’s a dream a lot of people share – the possibility of earning a great living working from home. It’s especially tempting on those trying days when the boss is on your last nerve and the kids are sick and you’re just too tired to even think about getting dressed and heading into the office.

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But it doesn’t have to be just a fanciful daydream. Every day thousands of men and women jump out of bed and head to their home office, cup of coffee in hand (and sometimes still in their pajamas) to begin their workday. You can too, with a little preparation.

Do the Groundwork First

No dream ever became a reality without first doing the groundwork. If you want to start a virtual assistant business, there are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare.

Financial. Most important, before jumping ship on your current job, is to get your finances in order. If you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt and living paycheck to paycheck, now is not the time to quit your job. But it might just be time to start a little side gig at night and on the weekends – perfect for a new virtual assistant biz!

While you’re working on building that solid financial base, you can also do some reconnaissance work. Study what other VAs are doing, what services they offer, who their market is, what they charge, and how they market their business. Look for forums that cater to virtual assistants, join groups on LinkedIn, and look for communities of VAs on Google+. You’ll find lots of conversations about what works, what doesn’t, and how you can get started.

Business Planning. Starting a business involves more than just opening your doors and shouting out “Hire me!” And while a small online business operating on a shoestring probably won’t require a full-blown business plan, you do need to have some idea how you’ll market yourself, what services you’ll offer, who your target client is, and what your budget will be. Unless you know these things, you won’t know if you’re successful or not, or even in which direction you should go next.

The Big Launch

Before you officially launch your new business – whether you’re working on it part time or have taken the full-time plunge – you need to have three pieces in place: Your domain, your website, and your mailing list. Each one is critical to your success.

Domain Names. This is your address on the web. It’s where your email will go, and where customers will find you. Keeping all that in mind, you can see it’s important to pick a good domain. Some points to keep in mind are:

.com is almost always a better choice. Whenever you tell people what your domain is and they later try to type it into a browser,.com will be the default extension they choose. If yours or anything else, you run the risk of sending your visitors to some other site.
Avoid dashes and numbers. You want to be able to speak your domain name easily. My Virtual Assistant dot com is much easier to say (and understand) than my dash virtual dash assistant dot com. The same goes for replacing words with numbers.
Have someone else read your domain, so you can avoid embarrassing misinterpretations that you simply don’t see.
Your Website. This is what people will see when they type your domain into the address bar of their browser. The quickest, easiest way to set up your website is to use WordPress, which most hosting companies allow you to do via their one-click installer. Once installed, WordPress is as easy to use as a word processor, and since it’s open source, it’s incredibly flexible as well.

Choose a clean, professional theme (there are thousands available) and set up a few pages to let visitors know what you do. Some to start with are:

Services – what you do and how much you charge.
Contact – how to get in touch with you.
Testimonials – where happy customers sing your praises.
Portfolio – to show off your good work.
Blog – if you choose to have one.
About – who you are and what you do.
Your Mailing List. A mailing list gives you a way to contact past, present, and future clients easily. You don’t have to wait for them to visit your site again, or rely on Google or other search engines to bring you traffic. With a mailing list you can reach out to your clients any time that is appropriate.

Having a sale on a package? Mail your list and let them know. Got room in your schedule for one more client? Mail your list and ask for referrals. Adding new services or team members? Mail your list and tell them about it.

Attracting Customers

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork and launched your new business, it’s time to get about finding some clients. By far the easiest way to do this is to simply ask. Ask people you know online for referrals. Offer discounts on trial work. Post about your availability in forums (where allowed). Team up with established VAs and take on their “overflow” clients.

You may even choose to volunteer your time in exchange for testimonials. Potential customers who visit your site will want to see that you’ve worked successfully with others before, so having testimonials on your site is critical. And you’ll find that once you have a few, they’ll start to snowball. Soon you’ll have lots of testimonials and more customers than you can handle.

Getting started as a virtual assistant is exciting and terrifying at the same time, but if you take the time to lay the proper groundwork, build a solid foundation, and establish your professional presence, your new business will be off and running sooner than you think.

I’d like to invite you to learn more about how to start a virtual assistant business by signing up for the free ecourse, Step by Step VA, offered by the Educated VA. In it you’ll learn the exact steps I followed to build and grow my own highly successful VA business.