Contributed by Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing
One of the most important aspects of your virtual assistant business is your online presence. But, before I start the thing I want you to know and keep in mind is that outside of your website and email list, everything else is temporary. Why?
Because technology owned by other people changes and goes away. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even YouTube are all temporary, something will come along to change them drastically or end them. I’ve been doing business successfully online since 1996 and I’ve seen wonderful services come and go seemingly for no reason. You can only count on your own self-hosted website and your own email list. That’s just the nature of things.
Don’t get discouraged though, this is not unique to an online business. Think about it, no one is making VHS tapes, now right? (Do you even know what that is?) The fact is, technology is always going to change, and it will make it hard for some people and easier for others. Artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, heck, self-checkout – it all changes lives – some for the worse and some for the better. But, if you’re aware going in that you need to be on the lookout for the signs, you can roll with it and build a sustainable virtual assistant business that changes with the times.
Today, regardless of whether you have an online business or an offline business, one thing is true. You must have a solid online presence.
The following are steps will help you build an effective online presence that gets major results. You don’t have to do it in order, and you don’t have to do it all, but you do need to ensure that people can find out information about you online if they search for you, your service, or your industry.
How to Develop Your Online Presence as a Virtual Assistant
Step #1: Create a Website
Once you have chosen an audience, a nice, and a specialty it’s time to create your website. Most people struggle with what to name their VA business, but my suggestion is to name it after yourself to save time and hassle. You can use the keywords within the site to change the niche or focus anytime you want to. But, by using your own name you can create an online presence fast for your VA or Service-Based Business. Not only that, it’ll be easier when you decide to incorporate or become an LLC.
For example, my main business is Barry Publishing. It’s a horrible business name. I get calls all the time asking me to publish people’s books and do a lot of things I don’t do. Of course, they could read the website and realize what I do, but they often don’t, and sadly since I created my business someone else has incorporated Barry Publishing in the last few years so now I cannot even incorporate unless I wanted to go to court and prove I started it first. I don’t, so I’ll keep the name as a sole proprietorship, but I am creating a new umbrella incorporation with a brand-new name that makes more sense and can grow and change with the times.
Even so, no worries, it still works for me to generate calls, list members, and clients so that’s really all that matters. That’s why I have not changed it yet and am not in a big hurry. I am too busy working.
The point is, don’t get too tied up in the name. I used to have a website Stephanie Watson VA and that worked fine too. So, does Barry Publishing even though I now feel that it is not a good name for my business.
The fact is, any website that you put up with the right information on it, regardless of what you name it, is going to help you establish an online presence. A website is so important that it should all start with the website. Everything else after that is to promote the website and thus your virtual assistant business. It’s much easier to create a website that works if you know what your main product is and who you’re selling it to.
WordPress Versus Website Builders
I highly recommend creating a website using self-hosted WordPress. Self-hosted WordPress is very different from the blogging platform WordPress.com, don’t use that one. If you’re not sure about this, ask in the VA Networking Facebook Group. They can clear up what I am talking about here.
Many people think it’s easier using a builder like Wix or Go Daddy’s builder, but I’ve used most of them and I can tell you that self-hosted WordPress is very easy to use, very effective, and the least expensive option. If you use a reliable web hosting service many, like MomWebs.com will load the initial WordPress in for you, and you can also get a domain name from them, or buy one from another place if you prefer.
I buy all my domains from Go Daddy even though I don’t necessarily recommend Go Daddy any longer. It’s just easier to park all my domains in one spot, and then I host all my websites on Mom Webs. I have used bigger hosting providers in the past, but this host offers topnotch customer care to those of us who don’t understand how hosting works, and quickly too, I might add.
Do keep in mind that when you build a site with a builder like Weebly or Wix you cannot move your site to another hosting service. You’d have to totally rebuild your site to move it. Not very nice or fun. Because when you get busy, like the mechanic without a working car, you’re not going to have time to update and keep changing your entire website. If you use something like self-hosted WordPress, HTML, CSS, Joomla, self-coding, or other platforms that enable you to self-host that’s going to work out fine.
Step #2: Set Up Social Media Accounts
Once you have built your website, go ahead and set up social media accounts reflecting your business niche using your real name. Your main Facebook Page and Your LinkedIn Page will, of course, be in your name. Use your real name. Use the name people call you. Put up a nice headshot using the recommended sizes and styles for the platform.
While I understand that you want your Facebook to be for friends and family it’s important today to realize you don’t really have privacy. If people cannot see your profile on Facebook which will link them to your groups and pages it’s going to be a lot harder to develop the things you need to be successful which is to be known, liked, and trusted. It’s okay because you’re going to post most business things on your pages and in groups, not your personal profile.
You don’t have to be on all social platforms, only the ones that your audience uses in large numbers. But, if you go ahead and set up an account, even if you don’t do much with it yet, then no one can take the name you wanted so that can help you later. So, even if you see no use for Instagram right now, but you know your audience is using it, go ahead and set up an account.
Fill out all your profiles completely. The one that will take the longest is LinkedIn.com but LinkedIn is very important because it’s more business-minded. Even though they are having some growing pains you can still get a lot of business via LinkedIn if you use it correctly for business.
Step #3: Create Valuable Content
A very important step is for you to create an online presence for your VA business is to start adding content to your website’s blog, and the pages on your website, as well as the main social networks you’ve decided to focus on.
Creating content can seem like a chore you don’t want to do but it’s going to help people find you. Content can be in all forms. Here are just a few examples of the types of content you can put on your website and on social media platforms.
- About Page
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Cheat Sheets
- Downloadable Files
- FAQ Page
- Landing Pages
- Legal Stuff
- Media Page
- Newsletter Archives
- Publish a Book
- QR Codes
- Sales Pages
- Tag Line
- Tip Sheets
- White Papers
When you create content, especially if it has your name on it, it should start on your website. From there it’s shared with your audience. If you choose the right type of content directed only to your ideal client, you’ll end up with a reputation as someone who understands their niche and their audience. It might seem strange to give away so much value, but that’s how you’re going to prove that you can do what you say you can do. By doing it, and by doing it for yourself first.
Don’t forget you can hire someone to write for you and you can also use private label rights content. You can learn more about that on my service provider site Barry Publishing.
Step #4: Promote Everything You Do
One thing you must learn about being online is that you’re like the proverbial “needle in the haystack”. There may be an audience of millions for your services but if people cannot find you then they won’t know to order your services.
Make it simple for them to find you. You can do that simply by promoting everything you do and by being part of your community online. When you are helping others freely in public, people notice, and they will contact you.
Think about it this way, last time you bought something you really loved, did you have any problem whatsoever telling other people about it? No, of course not.
You probably went on Facebook and said something like “I love my new pots and pans” and then proceeded to link to them on Amazon. It was easy, and it should be easy to do the same thing for your services when a customer is satisfied.
Plus, if you’re creating services that you know your audience needs to solve their problems, why would you hesitate for even one minute to tell them about it?
Let’s look at how one blog post can be used to bring customers.
But first, let’s assume you have a great website that works well on any platform, and your checkout system works great too.
Everything is set up as it should be. You’ve created a new service for your audience and now you want to start marketing it.
- Create a landing page for the service.
- Create a blog post about the problem.
- Link the service within the blog post or on a popup or under.
- Create a freebie that solves part of the problem and answers the “why” question.
- If you make a freebie, make another landing page for it.
- Link to the freebie in your blog post as a content upgrade.
- Ensure you’ve connected this to your email list so that you can get them on it.
- Promote the blog post on all social networks (where allowed).
- Ask friends to share the blog post.
- If you have affiliates, let your affiliates share the blog post and get credit.
- Send your current list the information too.
- Create a video from the blog post (could be a webinar or Facebook Live)
- Repeat promotions for the video.
- Do this more than once.
Do you see how it all goes together?
But, do you also see how creating the service isn’t enough?
You must work to help people get to know you. You want to develop what they call the “know, like, trust factor”. When they feel an affinity for you they’ll go look at your profiles, websites, and join your email list or sign up for your newsletter just because they like you. Show them your value and they’ll happily order your services and pay on time each month. When you work to attract your ideal audience through a well planned and executed online presence you’ll end up with ideal clients.