In these challenging times, everyone is looking at ways to boost their income.
That is no different for the smart VA, whether you’re just starting out or already well established with a good base.
If you’re going to treat what you do as a business – and you should be treating it that way – there are a number of ways to boost your income.
I’ll be sharing SEVEN ways in this two-part feature. Three here and four in Part 2 next time.
Before I get to the tips and suggestions, remember that income is only part of the money equation. The other part is the expenditure.
The more you have coming in and the less you spend, the more you will have in the bank.
Keep an eye on your finances…
When times are challenging, every pound, dollar or Euro counts. Even small adjustments to your spending can make a difference. If you’re missing your regular trip to the café, for example, just consider how much you have saved because of lockdown.
Even when the cafes reopen, one less coffee out a week could mean more than £125 saved each year. It might not sound much but just think what you could spend that amount on. (HINT: that amount just about covers a premium 365 Business Standard subscription for a year).
Boosting your income is not just about getting money in. It’s about using your money wisely. With purchases for your business, ask yourself the questions: do I really need this? Can I get it for less elsewhere? Do I need to buy new or would used suffice?
Remember, anything you save now can build into a handy buffer sum.
Money for a rainy day. Money for a holiday (when those are more possible). Money for ‘just in case’ or emergencies. Money for unplanned repairs on your car. Money to reinvest in the business when you know you can afford it. Money to treat yourself or your family. Money to reward yourself for getting a new client.
I’ll get to my first round of tips to boost your VA income in a moment but take note of this important point next.
Don’t forget to set aside a portion of your income for your tax and national insurance. Otherwise, you could be landed with a nasty surprise from the tax people. Typically in the UK, that portion is about a third of anything you bring in but do check what level it is for you, in your part of the world. Every country is different.
By the way, a little tip if you feel you can manage it.
You could choose to ‘tax’ yourself at a higher rate. For example, set aside 40 or even 50 per cent of your income as you go. When your tax bill arrives you will be able to pay it with ease – and have a lump sum spare. Now go treat yourself for that tremendous self-discipline during the year. Or leave it in and watch your reserves grow.
That’s enough about expenditure and keeping the tax people happy. Let’s turn to how to make YOU more money.
Here are the first THREE of seven ways to boost your VA income.
Boost #1 – Get New Clients
This can be the hardest thing for some VA’s but it is at the core of generating income. It’s something you have to learn if you’re going to run a serious VA business – and make it more than a part-time or pocket-money ‘hobby’.
If you know your target market or niche, go find the type of people or companies you love to work with.
Work out where they ‘hang out’ and start connecting.
They could be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. They could be at a business networking event or in an online community. They could be someone who listens to a talk you give, a webinar your deliver, a podcast you record. They could be someone who reads your blog, book, e-book or magazine article.
Ask your existing clients if they know someone who might benefit from using your VA services. Set up a referral scheme.
Make sure your website and marketing efforts are up to date, consistent and relevant to your audience.
Boost #2 – Get Clients to Buy More Often
Another way to boost your VA income is to get people to buy more often from you.
If you are already doing regular pieces of work for a client, see if you can add more value and secure a more consistent income. Create a services package or a monthly retainer offer.
You know your client. Put yourself in their shoes. What challenges do they have? Is there something else you could help them with that they haven’t yet considered? Propose a deal that both provides a solution for them and brings in a little extra for you.
Working with one boss, manager or director in the company? See if another leader would welcome some additional VA support.
Boost #3 – Increase the Average Client Spend
If you are working with a client and providing some admin support for them, explore the potential to offer additional services.
For example, they may do some social media, but you know you could help them to improve it – or to expand their online activity to another platform or channel. Broach the subject. Offer a suggestion. Make a proposal.
Take a look at your other clients (past and present). Do a little research. Is there something they are missing that you could offer to help them with?
Let’s say someone pays you £500 a month for your current services. You offer an additional service and charge £600 instead. That’s an extra £100 per month. That’s £1,200 more in your account for the year. Get two clients to take that up and you’ve doubled it to £2,400 in 12 months.
How is your business looking now?
It’s not all about landing the big client or taking on huge projects. You can seriously boost your income by implementing small changes, making tweaks to your service offerings and getting creative.
Let me know if you’ve tried something and found it worked really well. I love hearing your success stories.
And watch out for Part 2 of this feature, with FOUR more ways to boost your income.
In other words, tell people how you help them and what difference it makes to their business, career and lives.
You can save them time, money and hassle. You can do the tasks they do not like doing and free them up to focus on what they love doing. You can keep them organised, on track and help them create a great impression with their customers and clients.
They say people are only really interested in “What’s in it for me?”… so you have to tell them.
That’s how you present and demonstrate value.
But there’s another way to draw the right kind of clients towards you. And that’s by sharing your values.
There’s another saying that ‘people buy from people’.
And people often like doing business with people who are a bit like them, or like-minded or feel like a good fit.
Part of that draw is their perception of your values… and how those match their own.
It’s not something that sole traders, freelancers and ‘helping others’ professionals tend to think about. Or they may regard it as something only for the big companies.
But know this. Your values are part of you and your business.
Consciously or subconsciously, people are weighing you up on these. They’re doing this whether you openly state your values or not.
It’s based on first impressions. Your website. Your communications. What you say. What you do. How you are with them.
Values are part of your personal brand and, by association, with your business brand.
And this is not a paper exercise (as it sometimes looks when you think about how some corporates behave out there).
If you just write down a set of values like a ‘shopping list’ of things you’d like to have, that is NOT doing it right.
Values should be the things you hold dear. They are cornerstones for the way you are, the way you do things and the way you conduct your business.
Most corporates tend to set these out publicly. And some companies live to them.
If you’re using Microsoft Office you may be curious about Microsoft’s company values. Here they are.
Microsoft says it is about “innovation, trustworthy computing, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, philanthropies, and environment.”
You can decide what you make of that. Certainly, innovation and philanthropies can both merit a tick. The company has also made recent pledges which suggest it is doing its bit to respond to the world’s environmental challenges.
And what about you?
What are your values? Could someone make a good guess what they are just from how you are and provide your services?
How are you sharing these so people can see clearly what you stand for?
You can talk about values in many ways and places. On your website. In your social media content. In blogs. On video. In stories that you can link with relevance to business. In your networking. In public speaking.
It’s also something you can look for in the type of clients you most wish to serve.
How do their values stack up against yours? Is there a good match there?
These are all questions which can help you with your positioning, credibility and marketing messages.
Sharing your values can add value to your business.
What about me I hear you ask – what are your Values Shelley?
Well, I am so glad you asked. Here is what I believe in and what underpins my work.
I believe in honesty and fairness, delivering value and empowering others by helping them learn how to get things done.
I’d love to hear how you do this and examples of how this has helped you in your VA journey.
To YOUR VA Success!
p.s You can see this in my courses, just take a look at the Course Directory – you will see that everything I do is set to help you in YOUR VA business.
There are quite a few buzzwords floating around these days, aren’t there?
Ones I hear include the following.
Distributed global workforce.
These words and phrases are on-trend because the nature of business is changing – and changing pretty fast.
Lean is all about eliminating waste and increasing operational efficiency. Companies look at ways to streamline their processes and offer greater value for clients and customers.
Agile is about an approach that encourages employees to work how, when and where they want. Leaders are beginning to understand the performance and health benefits of allowing their people greater flexibility.
We haven’t quite reached the paperless office but the world is increasingly digital. More and more invoicing, document signing, and collaborate creation and editing, is now done online.
Collaboration is the buzz word of the moment. It’s all about how you can get people working together faster, smarter and with better results. Two reasons it’s so on-trend right now are the rise of remote working and the more widely distributed workforces of growing global brands.
Companies are making different use of office space. They want to work smarter. So it’s not about having the biggest buildings or having all your staff in one place.
Today, increasing numbers of employees work together from different parts of the country and globe.
They can do so because of advancements in communications and data technology. You can share your computer screen with people anywhere in the world and collaborate in real-time.
There’s a move towards smaller, more flexible meeting space. You may have heard of the words agile, hub, hive, ideation, stand-ups, scrum, huddle creeping into conversations.
Which can only be a good thing for the VA who knows her stuff.
Companies and small business owners are becoming used to working with people remotely – on the phone, via video conferencing, through online meetings and collaboration tools.
So working with a VA appears a very natural way of getting things done.
And the more you know about the applications and collaborative functions within Microsoft Office 365, the more your skills and knowledge will appeal to potential clients.
You may even find yourself knowing more things than the people you work for. You may have opportunities to share the advantages of features like Teams, which remove the need to rely on Zoom and make real-time collaboration easier.
When you are able to help clients save time, money and hassle they will love you for it.
And, of course, being super-efficient and productive yourself gives you the same lift.
It gives you time back for you. Time back for your family. Time to rest, refresh and re-energise. Maybe even out that work-life balance a little more in favour of you.
Lean into the lean world. Adapt to the agile ways of working in business today. Be confident with your communications and collaborations.
P.S. If you are ready to improve your Microsoft Office skills, take a look at my range of online training courses. Learn what you need when you want, where you want and at your own pace.
If you are a VA you may find you and your business falls into one of three camps.
Group one includes the freelance and professional ‘Veronica F.R.O.G.s’ who are as busy as ever. Maybe even busier than ever.
Group two contains the VA’s who are experiencing a bit of a dip in business yet still getting through OK. Despite the kids at home. Or their other half at home. Or caring for a relative.
And then there’s group three. This is those who are struggling a bit. Who may be feeling anxious about money and a bit less confident than when they began the year.
The VA in each group will have their own set of challenges right now, some of them unique or personal.
Some freelancers, self-employed and small business owners are asking whether it is the right time to be ‘selling’ their services. Will people really want to buy now? Will people have money to buy now?
They are valid questions. But too often there are assumptions being made about the answers.
The truth is, you don’t know until you ask.
If you are in group one or two above, you may be wondering what kind of things you can you do to (a) help existing clients (b) engage with past clients and (c) offer something of value to potential clients.
Why don’t you ask them?
Give your current clients a call.
Yes, on the phone. Just ask them how they are doing and see if there’s anything they need right now. And that doesn’t have to be a direct business ‘need’.
2. If not a call, send them an email.
And ask the same. You may think every successful entrepreneur, business owner is managing everything with confidence. That may not be the case. These are strange times and it can hit people in different ways.
3. Send out a survey.
You can do this easily with online tools like Microsoft Forms which is part of your Office365 subscription or even free tools such as Survey Monkey. You can set a range of questions to gain the information you are looking for. You can have Yes/No responses, multiple-choice options, ratings and spaces for comments.
When your surveys are in you can analyse them – look for common themes, patterns, concerns and potential opportunities. It also allows you to see what words people are using to describe their wants and needs. You can use those when putting your marketing copy together.
4. Send a Letter.
This is ideal if you only have a small number of clients. It adds a super personal touch. If you can, do it. Your clients will be so appreciative.
You could always include something of value with your note – like a relevant or inspirational quote, a quick tip or a checklist.
5. Send a Card.
This is an alternative to a letter. It will be welcomed just as much.
You could even include a question or a link to a survey so people can tell you how they are – for example, “No needs now”, “Might need something in 4 weeks” or “Yes, happy for you to get in touch in the Summer”. You can set out the options how you want.
Connections and communication have always been very important in business. Now they are more important than ever.
Microsoft Office 365 gives you all the tools to do that with efficiency, service and grace. Make sure you are up to speed with it.
Any questions? Just ask.
P.S. If you are ready to improve your Microsoft Office skills, take a look at my range of online training courses. Learn what you need when you want, where you want and at your own pace.
No waffle. Just the essential, step-by-step ‘how to’ for the most practical functions you’ll ever use as a professional VA.
This could be a very busy time for the smart VA. Demand for your services may be about to go up!
Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs, business owners and the self-employed are turning to online delivery of services.
That creates opportunities to service and support them with your skills, experience and knowledge.
Many out there will lack confidence or know-how in the tech side of things. Most will want ways to hold virtual meetings or video conference calls. Many will be working out and testing their options for presenting, speaking, teaching, training.
There is going to be a strong and rapid rise of online programs, courses and products. People will be wanting to launch their new ‘babies’ in the coming weeks and months.
This means campaigns. Sales funnels. The need for lead magnets, landing pages, sales pages, email sequences and more.
Which is potentially very good news for the pro-active VA. The one who knows her stuff. The one who can deliver quality on time, every time. The one who understands how to be more visible out there.
This is a time to be the ideal VA, like my character Veronica the F.R.O.G.
F.R.O.G. stands for Fast, Reliable, Organised and Great.
Here is where you are most likely to see demand for your services.
Communication and Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams
With more and more employees and professionals working from home, companies are going to be making greater use of online tools.
That means the VA who knows her onions when it comes to Microsoft Teams is going to have an advantage. It’s an ideal solution for corporates and smaller businesses.
It keeps everything in one space without having to jump out or switch to other apps. It offers video conferencing, virtual meeting, screen sharing and online collaboration options.
And if you want to get to grips with the essentials of MS Teams for yourself, I already have a comprehensive MS Teams course for the smarter VA. What’s more, to help during these strange times, there is currently 25 per cent off the normal price.
Do check it out if you’ve not done so already. It’s super value.
Content Creation and Marketing Campaigns
There are going to be many small businesses, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs right now busy doing one of three things. Creating content, creating online courses or running campaigns.
A good portion of them are likely to need or want support with putting all that together.
That could be you setting up the tech side of things – like creating and designing web pages, ensuring links work, setting up autoresponder sequences for emails, and putting shopping carts and payment systems in place.
That could be you creating the content for lead magnets. Things like eBooks, reports, white papers, infographics, checklists, questions for surveys or even scripts for videos.
That could be you putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a webinar or webinar series. As you may have noticed, webinars are proving really popular right now. The business and marketing gurus are telling people to use them as a ‘fast track’ to sales, so you know what’s going to happen.
That could be you creating posts for Instagram or other social media.
It can all be done using the power of Microsoft Office. You just need to know-how. That way you can spend more time serving and supporting, and less time fathoming things out each time.
If you’re not already fully au fait with how to put this stuff together in Word or PowerPoint, my dedicated online courses can get you up to speed fast.
My trainings are lean and cosy. No waffle. No obscure bits you will never need. No nonsense. Just you and me together. I take you through each task or function step by step, whether you’re on PC or Mac.
You see every single move of the mouse, every single click, every single dropdown menu or tab. It’s as if I’m there by your side.
When you consider what knowing this stuff could mean for your business, the value is plain to see. And you can save even more if you go for ‘The Full Monty’ and sign up for my complete box set of online courses. You can be part of the Tomorrow’s VA Hub in moments with a couple of clicks.
The opportunities are out there. Get ready to support and serve.
There’s a saying in business and marketing that “content is king”.
It might have been Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates who first coined the phrase.
There’s a lot to be said for it – though maybe today it should say “content is queen”.
Whichever way you prefer, there are bags of common sense behind the phrase.
For the smarter-working VA, content is your ally.
And it’s your friend in two distinct ways.
Firstly, you can use it to build up your portfolio of marketing materials, sometimes called marketing ‘collateral’.
The great thing is you can chunk up and chunk down to create a valuable bundle of content for building your VA business.
Let me show you what I mean.
You could create a checklist – perhaps of things to look out for when hiring a professional and reliable VA.
Write a couple of paragraphs about each point on the checklist – to say more about each one – and you have a summary guide for a pdf.
Add more detail and some examples and you can turn that into an eBook – which could be used as a lead magnet, a free giveaway or a bonus gift.
You might even create a little sales brochure, to tell people about the services available and highlight what you do so well. That’s another pdf right there.
That’s the chunking upside of things.
Very quickly you have built up some resources for marketing yourself.
Some VA’s won’t bother or they may not do themselves justice with the content. If you do it well, you’ll automatically be at the front of the field.
And another benefit of creating guides, eBooks and reports is this.
You can chunk down.
The content in your guides, eBooks and reports – sometimes called ‘pillar’ content – can be broken up into smaller pieces.
Use the words and images to create any or all of the following:
🌹 Blog posts
🌹 Videos (share the written words on camera)
🌹 Social Media posts, e.g. for Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.
Maximise the value of the content you create.
Repurpose. Revise. Re-use.
And there’s a second distinct reason why content is your ally.
Creating content for your VA business can be used to impress your prospects and clients.
You can show them what you are capable of producing. Demonstration and illustration are powerful forms of persuasion.
You can talk to your clients as an expert or specialist.
You can guide and advise them on how they could use the content for their business. If they like what they hear and don’t have an in-house team, guess who they are most likely to ask to take on the project?
That’s right. You.
It’s all perfectly possible when you know what you are doing with Microsoft Office 365.
A good reason for making sure your “how-to” skills in the different applications are up to the mark.
You don’t need to know every single thing that Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook do.
But it does help to know how to do the most essential and most commonly-used tasks.