Marketing yourself as a Virtual Assistant requires a professional online presence. There are a number of ways to achieve this, but the first and most important one is having a dedicated website promoting your service and skills.
Even if you already have a website, don’t necessarily switch off at this point. A good business owner continually reviews and adapts their marketing materials as the business matures.
But if you’re operating as a VA now without a website, this article is most definitely for you.
Let’s look at the steps you need to do to have a quality website working hard to attract new clients.
1. Do the groundwork
Gather together the elements you’ll need for your website:
- Homepage text and images
- About you / your company – background and skills
- Services page – outline all the services you’ll offer
- Rates information – or not, but an explanation of how you bill is important
- Testimonials – even if you’re only just starting out and haven’t officially done any VA work, you’ve most likely worked elsewhere previously. Ask past colleagues and employers for a recommendation. It doesn’t matter what job you were doing, it still provides testimony to your character and professional aptitude
- Contact details
And remember, consistent branding is also important. So, you’ll want to think about colour schemes, logo and imagery that can be used on your website and any other marketing channels you may use – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Having a better idea of all that will be on your site, will give you a clearer picture of its structure and layout – something that’s vital when you move on to the design and build stage.
2. Buy a domain name
Want to be taken seriously? Then you need a professional domain name to represent your business.
Here are a few tips when it comes to choosing your domain name:
- Keep it easy to type: avoiding the possibility of a miss-spelling
- Keep it short: the shorter the domain, the easier it is to remember
- Be memorable: where possible, choose something that flows easily off the tongue
- Include keywords when possible: if you specialise in an industry or niche and can include a keyword relating to it, do
- Avoid numbers: they can be confusing – is it a numeral (4) or it’s spelled out (four)
- Consider the extension: top ones include .com, .co.uk (or your equivalent country extension), .info, .net, .biz, .org
3. Find a good hosting solution
Do your research or ask some fellow VA’s or small business owners who they use for their hosting solution. With so many available, this is often the best way.
But there are also a few things you can check to help you make an informed decision.
- The hosting plans available – single website hosting, multiple, etc.
- What’s their support like – online, telephone, live chat
- Have they had a history of malware or hacks
- How often do they backup their websites
4. Decide on your website platform
Now’s the time to decide if you’re doing to create your own website or have someone do it for you. This may come down to budget, time or expertise. But one thing to remember is that you want it to look professional.
So whether that requires you investing more time or brushing up on your own skills, do it. Because whilst you can update it later – when perhaps you have more time, money and skills – right now, it’s your shop front. It needs to look the part from day one.
The most well-known website builders include:
- WordPress – the most popular and flexible solution
If you decide to get a developer involved, try asking some other VA’s first – personal recommendations are great for tasks like this. Or you can look to freelancer websites such as PeoplePerHour, Upwork and Freelancer.com
5. Choose a website template, or structure if briefing a web developer, and start building
Whether you decide to go it alone or get a developer involved, you’ll need to know what you want. The best way to do this is to put together a brief.
Now go back to your earlier groundwork and write down the following:
- How many sections / pages it will have
- How much text will be on each page (roughly)
- What calls-to-action are needed and where
- Will you have a mailing list sign up integrated
- Social media links
Then think about the design:
- Do you have a logo
- What images would you like to include
- Formal or less formal
- Traditional or contemporary
- What brand colours would you like
- Preference of font type
If you decide to brief this to a developer, you’ll also need to include your budget and time-frame.
If you decide to use a website builder, you’ll need to start searching for a design template -looking at what you’ve written above will give you a better idea of what will work.
6. Optimise your website
Do some research to help determine the best keywords to use naturally throughout your website.
Keyword research is one of those tasks that seem insurmountable to those of us who are less techy. But by dedicating a few hours to it, your business could reap the rewards by appearing higher in search results, faster.
Then remember to not only write your website text with those included (naturally, don’t keyword stuff) but to also update the title tag and meta description.
Not sure what they are?
- Page title: This is the most important SEO section to complete. It’s what displays in the search results as the title for that page. Page titles should be less than 60 characters.
- Meta description: This provides a summary of what your website is all about and can play a significant role for users to determine whether to visit a page or not. Meta descriptions should be less than 160 characters.
7. Submit your sitemap to search engines
To ensure your website gets indexed by Google and other search engines fast, submit your website’s sitemap to let them know of its existence.
You’ll then have a greater chance of appearing in their results for relevant search terms.
8. Generate some links
The second part of SEO and one that should be continued over time, is to get quality links pointing to your website from other relevant – and preferably – high quality sites.
There are several ways to do this, such as:
- Directory listings
- Business / industry forums and groups
- Submitting guest blog articles
The more links you have pointing to your site from reputable websites, the more value your website is perceived to have. And for that, search engines will reward it by boosting its rank on relevant searches.
9. Analyse and evolve
Last but certainly not least, is the analysis.
Sign up to Google Analytics and schedule in a regular task to take a look at what’s been going on.
Review your website traffic stats – where those people are coming from, what pages they’re going to, how long their sticking around, at what point do they leave, etc.
This can give you insights into where you should be concentrating more efforts in terms of marketing and the performance of each webpage.
Then make any adjustments you feel could work better, and review again next time.
A website is the most effective online tool you have to market your services. But it needs to be set up correctly, professional and well-marketed to benefit your business. This checklist provides the outline, now it’s up to you to make it happen.