Getting Started as a VA – Top Tips!

A bit about me! I’m Zoe, I’ve worked as a VA for nearly 9 years. Prior to that I worked as a production coordinator for a theatre producer and also have a strong background in events. My VA career has built from a couple of small clients alongside a few days of regular production work but as this built I was able to stop the regular office work and work remotely 5 days a week! My freelance career still includes additional work in events from hosting corporate team building, to on the day wedding coordination, and running a small business called Glitter & Glo offering roaming glitter and UV artists for events.

Making the Leap:

If you’re a bit scared to quit your job without any clients lined up, are you able to start building up some clients during any spare hours? This can make it easier to build up a more solid base in order to transition out of your full time position. Another option would be to ask whether going part-time is an option to then give you some extra time to start building as a freelancer.

Spread the Word:

Let friends and family know (and post on your social media!) that you are looking to start up as a VA and would love recommendations for clients. They, or someone they know may have a small business that may need your help! All my clients (bar one!) over the years have been via word of mouth referrals.

Find your Niche:

Many VA’s find a niche or industry that they specifically want to work with or have experience in. This will make what you do and how you market yourself more targeted and can be easier for people to find you. What kind of clients would you like to work with? What services do you want to offer? Or what sector would you like to work in? You may also want to list yourself as a generalist where you take on general admin and business support for all sectors.

Decide your Hours and what to Charge:

Work out what availability you are happy to offer. Are you going to be available every day or maybe just 3 days a week or only mornings? You may only offer a few hours in the evenings initially while you build up work around a full time position. Most VA’s charge an hourly rate but if you take on project work it may be good to have an idea of what you want to charge for these too. Some VA’s set up retainers for work with a minimum amount of time paid each month or each client may set an hour cap per week or month. If you are an experienced PA you should be confident on setting yourself a good hourly rate – I’m always an advocate of not charging too low as this can undercut the industry and means clients expect a low rate for a high level of work!

Programmes and Systems:

Having software to help you manage clients or projects can keep you organised. Look into different options to see which one works for you! You might need software or programmes for: email accounts, time tracking, saving files, keeping notes or creating workflows for projects. Often clients will already have software in place so you may need to be adaptable and learn to pick up new programmes quickly, but some clients may be happy to use any systems you have put together as they may not have any (or many!) processes already set up. This can be hugely valuable to clients who feel very unorganised!

Getting Clients Started:

Set up an onboarding system for clients once they want to get started. Send them your contract or t’s and c’s (some clients may have their own freelancer contract for you to sign instead) then book in a kick off call with them where you can get any details you need and access to any accounts and they can show you how their current processes or software starts. Ask them if they can create a VA manual if you are helping them with work day to day – what needs to happen every day or week and the current processes. This is great to get you started, without having to ask them too many questions!

Finding Clients:

The million dollar question, where do you find clients? There isn’t an easy answer but here are some ideas: Recommendations and word of mouth, Facebook groups or freelancers job boards, websites like Upwork which may help in getting some initial small projects, LinkedIn, Bumble Business! You may want to do some social media ads if you have a bit of budget for marketing – Facebook, Instagram or Google Ads are options. The other big one is networking – look at local networking groups, or virtual communities you can join that are in your sector or for freelancers.Find the type of networking that works for you as not everyone is happy to pitch themselves all the time! You can also look for associate work via VA agencies that may be able to give you some regular work. Note that you may get paid a lower rate per hour this way.

The Fun Part:

Come up with a name for your business to start creating your brand! I only did this about 3 years into being a VA so it may not be essential but will give you the chance to set up a website and social media pages which may in turn help to keep people updated with what you are doing and giving you an online presence can help you be found easier. You can also build your website and a logo and be creative!

The Legal Bit:

Contracts – use a freelancer template to create a client contract or ask them if they prefer to contract you. Ensure you add in any clauses you want for your business like payment time frames and your agreed hourly rate. Look at setting up professional indemnity insurance – there are some options for virtual assistants! Register as self-employed on HMRC! This is fairly simple to do and will be where you can submit your self assessment each year as well.

And Finally:

Trust your abilities! If you have PA experience you will be more than qualified and able to be a VA! If you’ve never been a PA, if you have common sense and are good at being organised you can still start building yourself a VA career.





VA Guidance Calls – email to book in a 30 minute call with Zoe to talk through becoming a VA and help guide you! I am just starting these up so I am offering them for £20 initially! 

By Zoe Sofair

I'm Zoe; a friendly and supportive PA with over 8 years of experience. I support businesses and individuals who need flexibility to help run their day to day. I have always been a mixture of creative and organised. I have a First Class BA Honours in Theatre Arts: Design & Technical Theatre where I spent the majority of my three years studying Stage Management, the department that supports all the other departments when creating theatre. I understand and work well with creative clients who need someone to help them run their business, so they can spend their time getting on with what they love to do and what they started their business to do. I predominantly work with event suppliers and businesses within the events industry, but I've also worked with sports and educational companies as well as web and marketing businesses. I enjoy helping to shape the best system for your business to run on, with clear communication pathways that best suit your business.

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