There are things we can do to improve the perception of the VA industry, explains Gemma Walton

Over the past few years, more and more administrative professionals have been turning to self-employment and becoming Virtual Assistants. And yet, despite the increase in our numbers, it can still sometimes be hard to get taken seriously as a business owner when you’re a VA.

For example, when:

  • VA work is marketed as a ‘side hustle’.
  • Clients are looking for a ‘right-hand woman’ or for someone who wants to ‘do a bit of admin around their kids’. I’ve called people out before for assuming that all VAs are women, with children, who want to work a handful of hours a week. That’s sometimes true (and obviously more than fine!), but you’d never make the same assumption about a lawyer or a doctor.
  • New VAs charge less than minimum wage just to win clients.
  • Becoming a VA is portrayed as a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’ on social media.

None of this is helpful when we’re trying to find our place in the business community and to charge premium rates in return for our exceptional, valuable services.

And so, because we all love a list, here are three ways to ensure your Virtual Assistant business is seen as credible, and in turn to attract great clients.

1. Get a Domain-specific Email Address

A domain-specific email address is one that ends in @yourbusinessname.com (or your regional equivalent, such as .co.uk). I often see VAs using @gmail.com or @hotmail.com and, although it might sound harsh, it makes them look like they don’t have a serious business setup.

Domains don’t cost much to purchase and are relatively easy to set up, and having a credible email address goes a long way towards showing clients that you’re professional, savvy and worth top dollar.

2. Set Up a Website

Some VA trainers might tell you that you don’t need a website, and that having a LinkedIn profile is enough. In my view, if you want to attract premium clients who are good to work with and pay big money, it is not.

Think about it: Would you buy from a brand that didn’t have a website?

The first thing most of us do when we’re looking to buy something is Google it, and look at the company’s site. We’re looking to find out more information, to check that the business we’re buying from is real and that it has good reviews. So if a company can’t be found online, alarm bells can ring.

Having a website gives you a shop window – it means potential clients will trust your brand more, will be able to find answers to their questions, and will therefore be more likely to buy from you.

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

The language you use really matters. On LinkedIn, on your website, in emails and everywhere else. If you use words that diminish your experience, your business or the work you do, clients may subconsciously diminish their perception of you too.

Here are some examples:

  • Using ‘just’, as in ‘I’m just a VA’ or ‘Can I just ask a favour?’
  • Using childlike language. I think if I see one more ‘Admin Fairy’ or ‘Superstar VA’ on LinkedIn, I’m going to explode!
  • Leading with your personal info.
  • Asking for permission to do things in your business.

Try making some small changes to the way you speak about yourself and your role, and see how different it makes you feel, and how differently people perceive you. Having a credible, professional brand means people will treat you like a credible professional, and that they will hire – and ultimately pay – you accordingly.

And that’s how amazing VA businesses are born.

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Gemma Walton is a VA trainer, coach and mentor whose passion is helping people to change their lives by becoming exceptional Virtual Assistants. Following a decade as a C-Suite EA, in 2015, Gemma founded Portfolio PA, a multi-award-winning Virtual ... (Read More)

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