Blog

Blog

10 Steps to Creating Content Your Potential Virtual Assistant Clients Will Love (Part Two)

Marketing content has to be all about your clients, and their needs. Virtual Assistants sometimes misunderstand marketing, and think they have to blog about their work and their VA business.

This article is the second part of a two-part series about creating content that your potential clients will love.

Last time we talked about how to choose what to write about, and coming up with a few actual article titles. Writing about things that your audience is interested in is the first part to getting their attention.

Check out Part One to get your first 16 content ideas pulled together. (That’s where points 1 to 4 are!)

Here we go with Part Two.

Once you have your article ideas, it’s time to plan your strategy.

5. Plan your content calendar.

Start with a simple Google calendar to plan out what you want to post, and where. Using your content matrix/spreadsheet, drop in each of your article titles into the calendar – once a week is great for blog posts or videos. You can rotate through your categories so that you are creating interesting content week after week.

I call my Google calendar an editorial calendar, but it reminds me not only of what I want to publish on each date, but then you can also plan time a few days or a week before to actually do the writing or recording so that you are ready on publishing day.

6. Use media you are comfortable with for your content.

In order to make sure you don’t procrastinate around producing content, choose media that you are comfortable with and actually enjoy.

If you don’t like to write, blog posts might be challenging for you to pump out (although I always say once you have the article titles in your content matrix, it is much easier to write a 400 or 500 word blog post). And blog posts can be repurposed into many other types of content.

If you prefer images or video, then use those. And definitely consider how your clients like to consume their advice and interesting content.

I didn’t like doing video, and it took me a long time to get started with it, but now I find it one of the easiest ways to create content quickly.

7. Focus on one or two platforms and do them well.

Another mistake VAs make is thinking they have to use every social media platform out there (plus a blog). But you can’t do everything well if you divide your attention, and you will also spend way too much time marketing. Focus on one, master it, and then add another. You’ll do a much better job of consistently posting valuable stuff for your audience without spending all of your time marketing.

8. Publish regularly and consistently.

Strive for interaction from your audience. Post content consistently and respond to people who interact with you. Be aware of algorithms. The more you post, the more people will see (once a day or once a week is often far too little).

9. Simple is best.

Don’t try to write 1,000 word articles, or record 1 hour long videos. Keep things as short and to the point as you can, to hold someone’s attention. If you have a topic that has many tips, consider breaking it into more than one blog post (like I did with this one!) or video. With my videos, I stick to 3 main points to hold the audience’s interest.

10. Showcase your personality.

Our clients hire a person to help them with their business. Your personality is a big part of that. You want to create content that is interesting, and shows your expertise, but don’t forget to leave YOU out of it. You will discover your ‘voice’ the more you do. Use that. It’s yours alone, and no one else can be you!

Creating content is easy once you get into the swing of things – and follow your calendar. Plan your content, write or record it, schedule it, and be consistent.

You will soon see what your audience reacts to, and get into a routine to put yourself out there in a way that feels natural, and yes … even fun!

If you need help marketing your VA business and finding clients, a CAVA Full Membership might be exactly what you are missing. CAVA is a professional association for Virtual Assistants in Canada. We provide community, visibility, resources, connections, training, client opportunities and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits here: https://canadianava.org/join-cava/

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

10 Steps to Creating Content Virtual Assistant Clients Will Love (Part One)

Virtual Assistants often tell me that they have no idea what to put out in terms of content – often this means they just don’t post anything.

What do you talk about or write about when it comes to your VA business?

Are you talking about how great it is to be a VA? Or actually about being a VA?

That might be interesting to you, but it’s not what your audience wants to hear.

They don’t have any interest in the daily life of being a VA.

Clients want to know two things: They want to know how you can help them, and how much it will cost them.

That’s it!

Being a Virtual Assistant is very important for your business, but it is not important for your marketing.

Marketing content has to be all about your clients, and their needs.

How you got started and what your day looks like does not belong in your marketing.

With your marketing content, you are trying to do two things:
• Educate your audience about your ability to help them with THEIR business
• Move them into action to work with you

Your clients (and their businesses) are the most important piece of your content strategy.

I’m going to cover 10 steps to creating marketing content that your (potential) clients will love. We’ll do this in two parts. Here are the first 4 steps for you:

1. Select Content Categories

Determine what your audience wants to learn about. Choose some categories to create content around. Four categories to start is perfect. For example if you offer Bookkeeping services, your categories might be: Organizing expenses, Timing/dates, Taxes, and Tips and resources (all VAs should have a Tips and resources category!). Be decisive so you can move to the next step. You can always expand this later, don’t worry about leaving things out.

2. Determine Article Ideas/Angles

Next, choose four ideas (or angles) that you can provide education or information about. This will help you focus very specifically on what your content will be about. Angles are things like strategy, mindset, numbers, habits, support, tips, resources, and so on. Choose four of these, again keeping in mind that you can add more later. The idea is to get moving forward, so four is a good start.

3. Create Your Content Matrix.

Next you come up with an article title for each combination of Category + Angle. It helps to put your ideas together into what I call a Content Matrix, a simple spreadsheet with the categories listed across the top columns and the ideas along the left hand side rows. This leaves you with 16 cells in your spreadsheet to do the next step.

4. Come Up With Article Titles

Your article title will come from combining the category and the angle. So in the corresponding spreadsheet cell, you put your article title. So for our example above, find the box that connects Organizing Expenses + Strategy = and put in an article title like “Tracking Expenses Monthly Helps You Better Manage Your Cashflow”. Get as specific as you can. This is an actual blog post title/topic or video topic. Fill in the rest of the other 15 spots by matching up the category and the angle.

When you plan for 4 categories, and 4 ideas for each, you will have 16 main content ideas. If you are only creating one main piece of content a week (like a video or a blog post that you can repurpose into smaller pieces of content), you will have enough content ideas for 4 months!

See how easy content production is when you plan ahead?

Everything is decided way ahead of when you need it.

And when you know what you will be writing about, you can search for things like statistics or quotes or look for image ideas that you can model for your own content, that all support your categories and ideas.

Your writing will be better because:

a) You have planned ahead which helps your writing appear more polished,

b) You will be consistently creating content that is very relevant to your clients,

c) You will be able to research or gather enhancements for your content that will help make you look even smarter!

Creating content is easy once you get into the swing of things. Develop a good strategy and use a system to brainstorm ideas, and then just do it!

In Part Two of this post, we’ll talk about where to publish your content and what to be aware of when you do. Continue reading steps 5-10 here: "10 Steps to Creating Content Your Potential Virtual Assistant Clients Will Love (Part Two)"

If you need help creating your marketing content so you can get clients, join me for my free 5 Day Get Clients! Challenge for VAs. Over 5 days starting July 10th, I’ll teach you how to strategize your messaging, you will do a daily homework exercise to help you implement what you learn, and you’ll be on your way to getting new clients more easily than you ever have before! Register here: www.YourVAMentor.com/getclients

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

4 Numbers to Track To Build Your VA Business

Do you track any analytics or other numbers in your business? A lot of Virtual Assistants do this for their clients, but not for themselves.

It is important to look at what is happening in your VA business so you can make adjustments to what you are doing.

Basically, you want to do more of what IS working, and less of what is NOT working.

How do you know what’s working? You track it and analyze it!

Here are some important things to keep an eye on in your business.

Website Numbers

It is important to know what is happening when people are visiting your website. You should be looking at how many visitors you get each month (is it increasing?), where they are coming from, and what they are looking at. Google Analytics is very easy to set up and attach to your website, and it gives you the answers to all of these things and more. Look at which of your blog posts is the most popular so you can create more content that your audience will enjoy.

Email Numbers

When you send an email to your audience, it is important to have a look at what happens with it – how many people open it, how many click on the links you provide, and how many unsubscribe. If you are going to use email marketing as a strategy in your business, these numbers will tell you what your people respond to - so you can do more of it. Most email programs will provide reporting that helps you easily track these numbers for each email you send.

Audience Numbers

How many people are you reaching every day? It’s true that the more connections you make, the more clients you will get. Tracking how many people are in your audience is important. Quantity is not always better than quality, but you can’t stay small and expect to get noticed. Keep track of your email list and your social media followers – and make sure those numbers are growing consistently each month. A simple spreadsheet can help you monitor these numbers in one place (pull the numbers from the social media platform reporting areas).

Consults and Conversion Numbers

How many people do you talk to every month about your VA business? Success is in the numbers, and the more conversations you have with people, the more clients you will get. If you aren’t doing at least 4 consultations a month, you have room for improvement. You never know where your next great client will come from! Use a simple tracking spreadsheet to track who you talked to and what the next follow up action should be.

Tracking your analytics is just one part of being a successful Virtual Assistant. As you start to get busier with client work, your own admin often falls by the wayside. But to keep your pipeline of potential clients full, managing your time doing these things is important so you can maximize the results.

If you are setting up your Virtual Assistant business and want more information about what you need to have in place to do it right, download our free Start Your VA Business checklist here. You will also get a complimentary Community membership in CAVA so you can see what we are all about.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

7 Things a Virtual Assistant Should Include In Their Contract

Virtual Assistants should never work with clients without a signed contract. There are important things that must be agreed to before any work begins.

If you are working with clients without a contract, you are not protecting yourself or your VA business.

Now, we are not referring to VA clients you find on Upwork or any of the other job service boards.

When you work with clients through those, there are terms that you each agree to, before you start working together, so you are covered by those. (quick side note – if you are working there, make sure you go over the terms very carefully so you know what you are agreeing to!)

In this article,we are talking about working independently with VA clients - just you and them. It’s essential to have a signed contract in place before you begin working together.

A contract does not have to be complex, and you can put it together yourself with normal everyday language (instead of legalese), but either way, you should have your lawyer look it over before you start using it.

What should your Virtual Assistant contract include?

Client Contact Information

Make sure that you have the right company name, address, phone number and email address on your client contracts. You can leave this for them to fill in, or you can pre-fill it before you send it to them. Of course you also need a signature line for them to sign at the bottom of your contract.

Description of Services / Scope of Work

The main section of the contract is where you detail what you will do for your client. Be sure you get as specific as you can in this area, so that what you will do is clear to both you and the client. You may need to refer to this area time and time again, so clarity is good to achieve now.

Communication

Letting a client know how they should send you work, or contact you regarding their tasks is great to include in your contract. You should also indicate your response times for the various communication methods. Communication is something you will always be managing with your clients, and outlining your expectations here is a good decision.

Payment Terms

Payment terms must be included in any contract. In addition to what you will do for your VA clients, detailing how you will be compensated and when (and what happens if they do not pay) is the next most important thing to include in your contract.

Business Hours/Boundaries

You may want to include some policies around boundaries like when you work. Since the contract is something that the client will be signing and agreeing to, letting them know when you are available is an excellent section in any contract.

Confidentiality

Some clients will provide you with a Confidentiality Agreement of their own to sign, which is usually fine (read it first), but you should also cover this in your own contract. Write a short paragraph that talks about how you hold and manage their work, and how you will ensure confidentiality of their company information, strategies, and so on.

Dissolution

The final section of your contract should indicate how either of you can get out of the agreement. At the very least, include a timeframe for giving notice to stop work (usually 30 days), and you can also even include language about stopping work due to late or non-payment if you want to further protect yourself.

Putting together your contract is an important piece of your Virtual Assistant business set up. You can find many contracts online, and you can adapt one to suit your business, but you should have a lawyer look it over.

Don’t start work with any client that will not sign your contract.

It’s an important piece of protecting both of you before you begin working together.

It should provide a clear outline of what you will do, how you will do it, what the compensation agreement is, and how either of you can get out of it – and that’s all very important stuff when working as a VA.

It will also show the client a level of professionalism that not all Virtual Assistants provide. Get yours in place today, so you will be ready when that next client comes along! A paid membership in CAVA includes access to all kinds of forms and documents, including a contract (and tons of other benefits too!)

If you are setting up your Virtual Assistant business and want more information about what you need to have in place to do it right, download our free Start Your VA Business checklist here. You will also get a complimentary Community membership in CAVA so you can see what we are all about.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

What Housecleaning Has to Do With Your VA Service Offerings

Why do household chores remind me of your Virtual Assistant services?

Do you like vacuuming? I really don’t like it. I tend to do it quickly to get it overwith so it makes me all hot and sweaty.

Vacuuming is simply probably my least favourite household chore. I do a decent job but I often take shortcuts because I just dislike it that much.

I also don’t like ironing, but I’m good at it, so there’s that. I tend to iron as we need things though, instead of doing it all at once like my Mom used to do. I remember her setting up the ironing board on a Saturday morning and ironing everything in the house while we watched cartoons. She taught me how to iron shirts properly! (but I digress LOL)…

I do like dusting. I have this amazing furniture polish that I really like. It smells great and it really does a beautiful job. And it leaves the wood furniture and my upright piano nice and shiny!

And I quite enjoy doing the laundry. I get into a groove in the evenings or the weekends, washing, drying, folding and putting away. (My husband and son wash and dry, but they don’t fold and they rarely put away – how about yours?!)

So what does any of this have to do with business?

Well, your household chores are much like the tasks you do for your clients. Some you like, some you don’t. Some you are good at, some you aren’t.

Think about your daily tasks that you do for your clients (or for your own business).

Can you classify the things you do every day into the following categories?

  1. I don’t like to do it. Hate it.
  2. I’m good at it, but I don’t love it. I do it when I need to.
  3. I like it, there’s not a lot of need for it, but when there is I take pride in it.
  4. I love it. I could do it every day. I have a great system to get it done well.

Who knew housework was so much like business, eh? 🙂

Look at your daily or weekly task list.

What is it that you really like doing? Do your clients even know what you like to do? Are you just doing everything they ask you to? You don’t have to. Look at the last month of things you have done for your clients and categorize things as above. What do you see?

Are you a task-taker?

Some clients treat us like ‘the help’. And we let them. Are you doing everything that your clients ask you to? We are support professionals, yes, but we do get to make choices. Especially if we are doing things we don’t like to do, or are not good at. It’s simply not a good use of their money.

Remember you are running your own business.

You are the owner of your business. You get to decide what you do. What services you offer. Not the client. We are not their employee. Part of the beauty of being your OWN boss is that you get to decide. We have the right to determine exactly what it is that we love to do, and we have to be able to tell people ‘I don’t do that, let’s find someone else to look after that for you.’

How can you make some changes in your business that will help you get to where you want to be?

Getting back to the housecleaning, several years ago we hired a housecleaner. This was a huge step in our family. We dreamed about it for a long time and thought ‘if only we could afford it!’

But it turns out we could – because we determined the tasks we needed her to do, and what our budget was – and that’s what we pay her to do. (She does the floors, the bathrooms and the dusting every two weeks!) Hmm doesn’t that sound just like a client sales conversation?

She told us that she does not clear ‘knick knack’ shelves to clean them so we remove things from shelves if we want her to clean them. We each set the expectations and it’s great. We would never be without a housecleaner anymore.

And although she doesn’t do the ironing (she might if I paid her to, who knows!), the vacuuming gets done very well every two weeks – way better than it did before we had her.

It’s the same with your clients.

Make some definitive decisions about what you love to do, and what you are GREAT at, and then approach clients for that work.

There are plenty of options for clients to work with more than one person to get all of their ‘stuff’ done.

If you want to be in business for a long time and make the money you want to make, you must act like the head of the household (or the CEO).

I promise you, these types of decisions will be the most impactful things in your business.

Do what you love, charge properly for it. Voila. Amazing business that you LOVE.

If you are stuck at how to build your list of what you love, book a free consultation with me here. We’ll talk about what you love to do, what marketable skills you have, and what your next step should be to put it out there for clients to see!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

How to Deal With Difficult Virtual Assistant Clients

Do you have any VA clients that you kind of dread dealing with?

You know the ones. The ones who give you anxiety when you see their name in your email inbox or on your phone. The ones whose work you do because you need the money but you really wish you had a different client.

To figure out how to deal with difficult clients, let’s first talk about what kinds of clients might be considered difficult:

• Constantly gives you work to do on short turnarounds or deadlines, or changes their mind often
• Treats every task like an emergency
• Sends an email or calls you every time they have a thought
• Complains or scrutinizes your invoice and billable time
• Constantly tries to sneak more things into a defined (or undefined) scope of work
• Speaks to you like you are an employee, or is mean, aggressive or rude to you in any way

Wow that list could have kept going!

There are a lot of difficult clients out there. As service professionals, it’s natural for many VAs to want to be helpful and do whatever the client needs. But it can create volatile relationships between the VA and the client – and many times things go from bad to worse fast.

So what can we do to deal with difficult clients?

Well, first you need to analyze what the problem is. It’s not personal – we need to act like business owners in every aspect of our businesses, and that includes identifying why the client is behaving in a way that we think they should not behave.

How is your behaviour contributing to this problem?

With clients, you teach them how to treat you. So how are you letting your clients treat you?

Short Deadlines

If you are actually doing the work when they send it to you late, or allowing them to do countless revisions, you are teaching them that you will get it done no matter what. Or if they treat everything they send you like an emergency the same thing can happen. Instead: Give the client firm lead times and tell them that they need to abide by them in order for the work to get done on their deadline.

Communication Issues

If you pick up the phone or respond to every email the client sends, you are teaching them that you are putting their schedule ahead of your own. Instead: Schedule a regular phone call (weekly) with your client so they can have your undivided attention. Make sure all other project or task requests go through your project management system or whatever communication policy you have set up.

Critiques Your Invoice

If you are providing detailed billing for your clients, you run the risk of them scrutinizing every point on the invoice. Instead: Your clients are paying you for your expertise – and yes, to get the work done – but you may want to revisit just HOW detailed your billing is (consider detailing the tasks completed on your bill instead of the minutes).

Scope Creep

If you keep saying yes every time a client asks you to do something, you will soon be doing more than you agreed to, probably for the same amount of money. Instead: Define what tasks you will do within the agreement you have with any client. If something new comes along, address it immediately with your client to discuss how to fit in into their work – and address additional billing if necessary.

Aggressive or Rude Behaviour

If your client is speaking to you in a tone that you don’t like, that is absolutely not okay. Of course business is business, and it’s not personal, but some clients do cross this line. If they consider you to be their employee, some clients will speak to you like you are beneath them. Instead: Assert yourself as the client’s equal – and fire the client if necessary. You are not their employee and there is never any reason for aggressive language or behaviour.

In a service based business like a VA, our personalities need to fit together properly in order to get the work done in a professional manner. If you have any clients that you consider to be difficult, first assess why this is happening.

Try to identify if there is anything you can do to make adjustments to the behaviour by reinforcing boundaries or policies, or having a discussion with the client to make things right.

We are in business for the long term, and part of that is finding clients that we love, and that love us!

If you are dealing with a difficult client and you aren’t sure how to handle it, I invite you to reach out to me for a complimentary Cut to the Chase call with me: www.canadianava.org/15-min. I know what it’s like to go through something like this and I’d love to help you push through the fear of handling it.

What Is Keeping Your VA Business Stuck?

If your VA business is not where you want it to be, what is making you struggle? Figure that out by reading below.

How do you feel when you think about your VA business?

Do you feel like a success? Are you proud to talk about how it’s going?

A lot of Virtual Assistants – no matter what stage of their business they are in –  are not happy. In fact, they are struggling, and they don’t know why.

Or they just fly by the seat of their pants, and then they wonder why they are not successful.

I hear from VAs like that every day. Is that you?

When I ask them how their business is going, I get a lot of the same responses:

  • It’s hard.
  • I don’t know where to find clients.
  • I am not making enough money.
  • I’m stuck on a business name.
  • I can’t start marketing until my website is ready.
  • I’m still working on my logo.
  • I’m no good at networking in person.

Some of these problems are just excuses to not start (that happens very often with new VAs!)

Some of them are simply decisions you have to make – you must learn to be brave!

And some of them are valid issues that you need to get help with, if you can’t move forward yourself.

I often challenge the excuses that VAs use to not start or grow their business.

It’s my job as a coach to help push you through the fear that you have around being a business owner and experiencing success.

I had to have someone push me through my fears and insecurities too. It’s not fun, but it does work.

So I ask these VAs what their plan is. Often they don’t have a plan, and that’s the whole problem.

Are you making excuses? or do you just need a little push?

If any of those protests above sound like you, here is my advice:

It’s hard.

Yep, it is. Being a VA means being a business owner, and that’s not always easy. Usually the reason it’s so hard is that you don’t have a strategy in place to market your business, to find clients, and to manage the work with them. That’s really all you need to do. Treat your VA business like a business, act like a business owner and you will find it much easier.

I don’t know where to find clients.

Who are your clients? If you have not chosen a target market or industry yet, that’s your first step. Once you decide who you are looking for, you can figure out where to find them. Ask your colleagues if you don’t know. Getting clients means getting in front of the people who need your services, so they can see you. Reach out. Connect.

I am not making enough money.

How much money are you making? Where is it coming from? Do you need to raise your rates? Or do you need more clients? Get specific about what the issue is, so you can put the right plan in place to fix it. If you need to raise your rates, figure out how to tell your current clients. And any new clients you bring in, start them at the new rate. If you need to find new clients, make a plan to do that.

I’m stuck on a business name.

You have a name. Your personal name. Don’t let branding or a business name stop you from starting your business. It’s an excuse, and a bad one at that. If you are ready to serve clients – you have your services chosen, your rates set, a contract to have them fill in, and a means for them to pay you, you can get going. Don’t hang yourself up on this. Get moving.

I can’t start marketing until my website is ready.

This is the same as your business name. You don’t need a website to start having conversations with people. Your website will always be a work in progress. You do need an online presence when you get started but not necessarily a website. Update your LinkedIn profile so it’s current and describes what you do. Start a Facebook page for your business. There you go. You’re online and visible.

I’m still working on my logo.

Most clients will never even notice your logo. I know that’s probably upsetting if that’s your main focus right now but it is so true. Clients want to know two things: what you can do for them, and how much it will cost them. Branding is important, sure, but it should not be a stopping point to getting your business off the ground. Bring in some clients and revenue, and then you can brand to your heart’s content!

I’m no good at networking in person.

Many VAs are introverts. It’s part of our nature, being support professionals. But networking is really just about asking questions and assessing whether you can help someone. That’s not as hard as you think. If you really get paralyzed by networking, you might need to seek help to get better at it. If you really can’t connect with people, you will have difficulty getting clients. Maybe being a subcontractor is a better plan for you.

If you are using any of these reasons (excuses!) to stay stuck in your business, start moving through the issue. Check out the links in this article to get more info.

Success takes planning, and consistent efforts to implement those plans. And it’s great when you can crush those excuses!!

If you just need a little help to push you through what you are stuck on, reach out for a complimentary Cut to the Chase call with me. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to go, and I'll give you my best advice for what your next step should be. Book yours here: www.yourvamentor.com/15-min.

6 Ways to Manage Your Time Better Every Day as a VA

If you are a Virtual Assistant who is working early mornings, late nights, or both trying to get it all done, it’s time to look at how you manage your time every day.

As a VA, we preach to our clients the importance of not working all hours of the day. But are we taking our own advice?

How is your VA business running? Are you finding you have enough time in your day to do your client work and your business admin?

Or are you struggling every day to get it all done?

If you constantly run to keep up, or get to the end of your day and your task list is not complete, it’s time to look at a few ways you can better manage your time.

Being in business doesn’t mean you have to work all hours – we tell our clients all the time that they shouldn’t, and yet we sometimes don’t take that advice to our own hearts.

Here are 6 tips to help you become more productive (or figure out where your time is going!):

Assess your To Do List

When you start your work day, look at what it is you need to get done. How does it look? Do you immediately know that this will be a very busy day – that you might not get it all done? That’s okay if that happens occasionally, but if it’s happening every day, you need to assess what you are putting into your calendar and how you can adjust it.  What you plan for the day needs to be manageable.

Work During Business Hours

When you are running a business, you have to pick and choose what to do – and your billable work should come before everything else. With no client revenue, your business will not survive. Working during business hours instead of doing the groceries or going to Johnny’s school is important. You don’t have to work 9-5 every day, but you do need to set business hours that work for you and work during them as much as possible.  Trying to work around family needs will lead to burnout faster than if you just hold certain periods of time for you to be working on business.

Block Out Your Schedule

Blocking out your schedule helps you to identify what you should be doing at what time. That doesn’t mean rigid and boring routines – but it does help you stay focused and let others know when you will get to things. Put start times and stop times in your calendar, so you know when it’s time to move on to the next task. Advise you clients what your turnaround time is for their projects. Block out personal time like meals and breaks – no eating at your desk! You will get more done, and still be able to do everything you want – business and personal.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest issues with working from home is distractions. Sometimes it’s because there are others home with us during the day, and sometimes it’s just that no one else is watching us. We can do whatever we want! If you are not being as productive as you need to be, try switching off all distractions – notifications, social media, Netflix (!) – and see just how much you can get done in a short period of time. It’s really effective – trust me!

Get Support When You Need It

If you are working all hours of every day, look at why that is. What is taking up your time? If it is billable work, it may be time to hire a sub or two to lighten your load. It’s a great to build your business and bring in even more clients, when you get a couple of people to help you with the client work. When you are working alone, you will eventually max out the amount of work you can produce for clients. If you are underwater with bookkeeping or marketing tasks, consider getting help with those. Support is something we tell our clients is essential to grow their business, and the same is true for our own.

Use Checklists

Even if you think you know what you need to do, a checklist is an indispensable tool in our businesses. When you have a a repeatable task, set up a checklist for it so you don’t have to think about what to do next. You will free up very valuable brain space when you just need to consult a checklist to complete your tasks. And you can use a checklist when you bring in other support to help you.

When you work alone, no one is there to make sure you get everything done and don’t fall off track. You need to do it yourself.

By implementing simple things like scheduling, focus and checklists, you can help yourself get more done in a shorter period of time.

When you are starting your VA business, time management seems less important because you don’t have a full client load. As you get busier, you will need to manage many more tasks every day.

I always find myself dropping balls when I have less to do, not more. When I have lots of things to get done,  I manage my time much better.

Setting up good practices now is a good habit to get into, so when you get really busy you already have great habits!

If you want more lessons on time management, check out my Productivity videos on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for Virtual Assistants there! 

How to Build a Virtual Assistant Service Package

Do you get stuck trying to create service packages for your Virtual Assistant business? You are not alone.

This is one of the questions I get asked most often – how to package your services.

Virtual assistants know that when we charge clients for a package of services, we all benefit.

Trading hours for dollars is not a bad business model, but there are downfalls to it.

One of those downfalls is that you max out how much money you can actually earn. Because it is based solely on your time, and you only have so much time, you hit an earnings ceiling, and sometimes that happens very quickly.

Or, if you choose to work 60 to 80 hour weeks to earn more money (which some VAs do!), you will soon suffer from burnout. And then you will lose clients, and your income will go to ZERO!

Sounds dramatic, I know, but it really is true.

Any VA who has charged by the hour before knows that this is exactly what happens.

So. We talk about packages.

But there seems to be a lot of mystery around how to do it. Or at least how to do it properly.

I moved my clients to packages so long ago that I sometimes forget that someone taught me how to do it!

So now I’ll teach you!

Here is how you start to build a service package:

1. Write down all of the things you do for your clients. 

All of them. Go back as far as you need to in your records to figure out what services you offer. The list should be comprehensive.

2. Write down all of the services you offer on your website.

These are the services that you tell people you offer. Why the extra step? Because sometimes there are things on your website that you are not doing for clients. It's a double-check!

3. Go through both lists and start to categorize the tasks that are on them. 

Think of categories like organization, business correspondence, marketing, networking, list building, client communication, payment processing, wherever you find a common thread – that’s a category. Some services offerings/tasks can be in multiple categories.

4. Next, go through your client list.

Write down their business info: what they do, who their clients are, and what types of things they need support with (whether you are doing those things for them presently or not).

5. Categorize your clients as well. 

Who do you really love to work with? What do you love about them? Who do you prefer not to work with? Why not?

6. Finally, have a look at the lists of things that you created that your clients need support with.

Are there other things you could be doing for them that you are not currently doing? (Keep in mind this is not a wish list, but an actual ‘I have experience doing this and I could offer it to them right away’ list).

Now you have your pieces!

Take your categorized service listings and apply them to your favourite clients.

Build Your Packages

To build the packages, start with basic items (ie a regular newsletter) and then add on other complementary services (services that build on one another – ie social media posting of the newsletter, article marketing, blog post, etc.)

Voila! You have basically created a service package for a client that you love to work with.

Don’t worry if those examples aren’t on your lists.

Types of Packages

You can build a client care package, a list building package, a social media package, a graphics and web package, a bookkeeping package, a general admin package, a calendar management/follow up package … any service you provide can be packaged if you just think about what you can put with it to enhance it.

Set Your Prices

Now, from there, you need to decide what your prices look like. I suggest starting with a basic package price and then adding on additional services to come up with premium package prices as well.

For now, start with building some packages and in another blog post we will talk about how to price them.

I have a system that will help you understand what your billable rate should be, and how to build great pricing structure from that.

And certainly if you need help to get yours on paper (or post its!), have a look at my self study program How to Package Your Virtual Assistant Services  which will walk you through the steps to do it for yourself.

What Counts as Billable Time For Your VA Clients?

What do you charge your Virtual Assistant clients for? Just time on task? Or more?

Quite often, I see posts in the VA forums talking about time tracking and billing.

One of the topics that is discussed a lot is around what is billable time to your clients and what isn’t?

And the answers you see posted would probably surprise you. They definitely surprise me!

The short answer is that anything you are doing for a client should be billed to them.

Here’s a quick example.

When you go to McDonalds (I use McDonalds as an example often!), you don’t leave with anything that you haven’t paid for. You get your sandwich, your drink, and you get your condiments and napkins on the counter adjacent to the cash. Maybe you didn’t see the napkins and condiments itemized on your bill, but everything you are leaving with is factored into the price you paid – including the staff that served, the machines they used to process your order, and the lights over your head.

It’s the same thing with your clients.

You provide a VA service to them. The service includes what you do for them (ie managing their scheduling), and everything else that you need to use to provide that service for them. These things are what make up your billable rate. You need to make a certain amount of money in your business to cover your expertise and your expenses.

I’m not talking about your internet and your other overhead expenses – I’m talking about all of the time you spend looking after their client work.

If you can not earn a profit in your business, then you won’t be in business long.

Now let’s talk about the itemized stuff.

Aside from doing the client’s scheduling, what else do you need to do to manage their work? With VA work it’s mainly communication and administration. Do you bill for these things? If you do not, then you are giving away your time.

What specifically? Phone calls, meetings, updating the project management system, reading and responding to emails.

It is important to factor all of things like communication into your billable rate – and find a way to do all of it efficiently.

Some Virtual Assistants do not charge their clients for this time. They call it ‘included’ but what if one client sends you one email a day and one sends you 20?

The assumption would be that the one who is sending you 20 emails is a larger client, who is probably paying you for more time. But it’s not always the case.

I once had a client who LOVED her email. She was a writer, so words were her craft but I used to dread seeing her name in my inbox because it was there so often. One Monday morning I logged in to see more than 80 emails from her, that she had sent over the weekend. Eighty (I counted them). And she was a client who was billing only 5 hours a month with me.

I had another client who LOVED phone meetings. She didn’t like to write or type, so she wanted to speak on the phone every time she needed to tell me something. A phone call every day adds up quickly – even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes, never mind the fact that you have to stop everything you are doing to take the call.

As a service business, your time is your money. You need to get paid for it.

That means everything you do for a client should be getting billed to them. If you were not there helping them in their business, they would be doing things themselves.

And yes, we all want to be giving and generous – there is never a problem with that. As a VA, that is one of the best things you can be – provided that you are not giving your time or energy away for free.

Clients are paying you to work with them. So charge them accordingly to get their work done. Your time is as valuable as theirs (actually it’s even more valuable, in my opinion!)

Charge for your phone time, your email time, your project management system time. If you don’t like the idea of itemizing that kind of thing, fix a monthly rate to it, something like 15 minutes a day for communication with a client is only 5 hours a month. But then be sure to track it so you are sure you are billing them the right amount.

Nobody should be working for free. Your clients don’t, and you shouldn’t either.

What’s billable? Anything you do for a client (honestly - except sending them their invoice each month!).

Factor in everything you do and you will be happier in your business, and your clients will be happier too!

For more tips and resources on making your VA business more profitable, sign up for a free CAVA membership today! Connect with VAs like yourself, and have a look around at our resources, while you consider full membership in our association!