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Tawnya Sutherland

How to Find New Clients

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"I just started out and don't have any clients, how do I find them?"
I am asked this question all the time so thought I'd share my 19 years of experience in this area working as a Virtual Assistant...
When I first started out it was feast or famine for me as I had 3 kids to provide for and personally I preferred feast! That meant I really had to work long, hard hours to get my client base full in the beginning. (I'm talking 50-80 hours a week). It was not easy!
First off, you'll want to sit down and write out some marketing campaigns of ways to find clients. Write out each strategy and then break each down into easy to handle tasks that you can check off and complete. You'll need a marketing plan like this to have a blueprint for success.
Example of a marketing campaign:
1. Set up a newsletter
- Research email marketing programs like Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Get Response , etc.
- Order email marketing program (I use ActiveCampaign because through my research I found it was the better program above the rest)
- Decide on a name/description for your newsletter list and set it up
- Think up something you can giveaway for free if a person signs up like a tip sheet, guide or ebook to entice your peeps to sign up. Everyone loves freebies and will give away their email for it ;)
- Develop this giveaway (you'll have steps to that too)
- Develop your autoresponders that your peeps will receive once they sign up
- Put a form on your website, with a graphic image and call to action to collect emails.
- Add this call to action to your email signature too ie) P.S. Download my new ebook for free by clicking here
- Start marketing your newsletter signup on your social networks, in your blog posts, on your business cards, etc.
There is an example of just ONE marketing campaign broken down for you. You'll want to have MANY of these types of marketing campaigns if you want a full client base.
Here are 10 ideas off the top of my head for marketing campaigns to develop. Each will have subtasks too:
1. Set up a newsletter
2. Start Blogging
3. Set yourself up on a social network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) and start networking through it
4. Join some online groups/forums where your market hangs out and start networking online.
5. Make videos to attract clients
6. Develop your website
7. Optimize your website for SEO
8. Advertise locally in print (business cards, flyers, newspapers, etc.)
9. Join networking groups locally
10. Tradeshows
NOTE: I did a ton of networking both offline and online but found that it takes some time (usually months) to see results as forming a relationship (which is what networking is all about) doesn't happen overnight.
As you can see, getting clients through marketing is HARD WORK and takes hours of your TIME!
It didn't take me long to learn that my time was worth money in my hands. Just 40 hours of me marketing myself @ $35/hr (my hourly rate at the time) was $1400!
I wanted an easier way to get clients!
So I did some research and found out there were job boards where prospecting clients came to hire Virtual Assistants. HOW COOL IS THAT? These websites did the marketing for me (saving me all kinds of time) and all I had to do was pay a fee and I'd have access to their job board so I could apply to be these clients Virtual Assistant.
As much as I didn't think I had the money to part with (being that I had no clients yet LOL), I also knew that starting up a new business wasn't going to come without spending some money on it. I don't know one business out there that doesn't have overhead expenses so why should my VA business not have them?
I had to switch my mindset from "I can't afford this" to "I need to invest in my business". Plus it was just common sense to spend a bit of money to make a lot more money in a shorter amount of time. Just landing one of the jobs on these boards would pay for my membership and the rest of the jobs I got on it would be money in my hands ;)
So my recommendation on how to get a full client base in the beginning? INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS!
Next question you probably have:
"Now that I've joined some job boards like Freelancer, Upwork, etc. but I'm finding it very competitive and the jobs aren't even paying minimum wage???"
Yep you are right, stay away from those job boards as your business will not stay afloat for long working at or below minimum wage. If you want the hourly rate that you know you are worth then you need to join reputable, well known, Virtual Assistant organizations online (like our VAinsiders.com) that have quality job boards that pay what a VA is actually worth. At VAinsiders.com we actually market to find potential clients for our paid members. Find VA organizations who are out there educating potential clients the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant and what to expect when hiring one. Clients that post RFPs at these job boards understand the value of working side by side in a long-term relationship with their VA and will pay the price for these services :)
AND that is how I had a full client base within the first month I started my VA business. I joined every (not just one, but EVERY) reputable VA organization out there that had a job board for VAs. Don't know who they are? Just ask your fellow VA and they will tell you :)
I'd love others to share their answer too so that new VAs can get this question finally answered for them :)
With that being said, I wish every Virtual Assistant reading this post success and a full client base next month in your business. We are cheering you on here! If you have any questions, just ask below in our #VAforum...


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How useful. Thank you so much.

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These are the VA organizations we recommend joining that have the best job boards:

1. VAinsiders.com - This is our #VAforum upgrade and has the busiest job board.

You can also find jobs sometimes at our Facebook Group or Linkedin Group



Feel free to recommend others you have tried and found work at too.

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It is different for every VA on how long it takes to find the first client. Depends on their drive, discipline and desire.

If you are working day and night you can have a full client base within a month (I did). I got my first client the same day I got laid off from my corporate job and had a full client base within one month. I had no other choice but to burn the midnight oils if I wanted my kids to have food and a roof over their head. My kids lives were my DRIVE!!!

You need to find this DRIVE within you then put it in 4th gear to find that first client. If your reason is strong enough you'll find that first client sooner than later.

I see so many VAs complaining they have yet to get their first client and then I see them on Facebook all day liking posts or posting selfies, or I hear they just watched a marathon of Breaking Bad, or they just went to mall and bought new shoes, or spent the night out dancing...yada yada

Discipline is MOST important to land that first client and you have to shut down all the distractions. No FB, no Netflix, cleaning the house, no socializing with friends, no entertainment period LOL! Shut all the fun stuff down and WORK on getting a client and it will happen before you know it :)

I suggest looking at what you do all day (ok, some things like cleaning the house we have to do LOL) and see where you are spending all your time. Are you really working 8 hours a day at finding a client? I mean really working (not surfing the net)??? Do you have a gameplan set up, a marketing plan in place to find clients? If not, start there. Figure out how many hours per day you can DEDICATE to finding clients and put tasks in place to start implementing those 8 hours (or 14 hours if you want it bad enough LOL) of time into productivity. You will then land that first client pretty quickly ;)

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thank you. I thought I was doing something wrong. But I do not stop getting the word out about my business. Update my website and social media, and doing my blog. I even joined the local Chamber of Commerce. Once again thank you.

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I just wanted to update this thread a bit with my top 5 ways to find clients from quickest/easiest to takes time/harder...

1. Join VA organizations that have high quality job boards specific to VA work like my VAinsiders.com

This is the quickest and easiest way to get your first client! You don't have to do anything but apply to the RFP.

2. Promote yourself locally. Attend local meetups, Chamber of Commerce meetings or other networking events. Start getting known at these events and forming relationships with the people who attend these and in a short time you'll find that you start to attract clients from these events. People trust quicker in person and once trust is established they will buy from you.

3. Promote yourself on your social networks. When I say promote I don't mean SELL SELL SELL. I mean HELP HELP HELP. Get on your social networks and share helpful information with your peeps, help them solve their problems and in no time you'll start seeing people hiring you and/or recommending you to their friends. Go hang out in groups where your target market is conversing. These are the best areas to form relationships which in turn can turn into clients for you. I highly recommend LinkedIn if you are a VA because here is where you will find business entrepreneurs who need a VA. ie) You won't find your mother hanging out in a Linkedin group ;) 

4. Build your list.  Yep, the $$$ is in the list and I highly recommend you start building your list from the get go! If you are a member of my VAinsiders Club please check out our Email Marketing Challenge Training and it will teach you step by step how to get your list up and making you new clients.

5. Contact 20 people every day and you'll be turning away potential clients. Yep I mean this! If you have no clients yet then spend the most of your day finding new people to contact and start forming a relationship with them. If you say you have no contacts just look at your Facebook friend list or at all the contacts on your cell phone and start there. Contact them in the beginning socially just to establish a ping/pong conversation. Ask them how they are doing and get the conversation going. Once it is flowing nicely only then can you bring up the subject of how you could help them solve their business task problems.

The reason I say contact 20 / day is because it is known statistically that for every 20 people you contact 2 will say yes. Don't give up and go for NO! Get excited instead of depressed when 18 have said NO because statistically the next 2 should be YES! ;)

Ok, start at #1 and go get those new clients!

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