If you are a part of any Virtual Assistant group, you have seen posts with questions like “Does this seem legitimate?” As soon as you have to ask yourself that question, chances are you need to run. These types of questions most likely come from being a part of freelance outsourcing sites like Upwork. Upwork and agencies like it, have been a concern of mine for a while now. I want to share with you why and how you can build a virtual assistant business without Upwork.
There are many client-freelancer matching sites out there, advertising as an easy way to get your foot in the door for freelancing clients.
Nevertheless, most of the time, the negative experiences far outweigh the benefits. The incidents of scams, being underpaid, and unpleasant client issues are rampant on Upwork and other outsourcing sites.
Issues with Upwork
Upwork charges freelancers a 20%, 10%, or 5% service fee depending on the total amount they’ve billed with a client. Besides the fees, there are numerous issues that arise like other freelancers delivering projects that have been copied or plagiarized, leaving you with clients that are reluctant to trust you.
There are scammers on these sites who have figured out they could get a job done without paying the freelancer; the last thing freelancers need is not getting paid for their creativity and hard work.
You invest way too much time and heart into your work, for clients to leave you high and dry.
If you have walked through the steps of the Virtual Assistant Making Money Course, then you already have the foundational procedures in place to succeed.
If you have your tag line, services outlined, contracts, pricing, onboarding, and customer service in place, then you are ready to go–without Upwork.
It can be challenging to promote yourself especially if you are new to the industry, but it is absolutely possible.
Before we dive into building your VA biz without outsourcing sites, I wanted to share a few things you shouldn’t do in the process of building your VA business. NOT doing certain things can be just as important as doing the right things.
DO NOT – Network for clients in VA groups
There definitely are times when fellow VAs will refer you to clients; some of my best clients came from fellow VA referrals but that comes down the line with experience.
This should not be your primary way to obtain clients. VA groups should be to ask questions, collaborate with other VA’s, and to establish a support system.
The worst you could do in a VA group is to try to procure your services unsolicited.
DO NOT – Sound desperate
I understand the stress and frustration that comes along with not making ends meet. You wish your business can just take off, but sounding desperate will get you nowhere.
Showing desperation also shows you are unprofessional. If someone on a VA site gives you directions on a potential client need, follow those directions. Do not inbox them if the post says not to.
Be professional, always.
DO NOT – Forget you ARE a professional
If you are serious about becoming a successful virtual assistant, then you want to sound professional in every interaction you have. Yes, this includes in networking events, on your professional page, AND your personal page.
Now that people are looking to you as an expert in your field, you must make sure you are using proper grammar. Make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are all correct when posting online.
It is also appropriate to use very neutral tones in your posts. We are not able to translate intonations or fluctuations in speech when we are reading, so avoid be aware of that and use language that can’t be construed as rude or abrasive.
Trust that this will go a long way to gaining trust and opportunities in your audience.
Note: This doesn’t mean you can’t joke around and be silly, but use discernment and discretion in your interactions always.
Now–are you ready to put in the work?
Check out these three foolproof ways to build your virtual assistant business without Upwork:
Network with Intentionality Online
Know where your target market is meeting online. Facebook groups and forums where your target market communicates is where you want to be.
This is one of the quickest ways to start networking with your target clients.
While you are in these Facebook groups you are talking with members, offering your expertise when questions are asked. You should be watching, listening, and learning.
Listen to the questions they are asking, the problems they have that you can find a solution to, or that your services can be an answer for.
You NEED to be in the trenches with your target audience. How many times a day are you in groups chatting, discussing, answering questions, or responding to topics with your target audience.
Learn skills that your audience needs help with, immerse yourself in it, and then offer it to them when they ask again.
Companies have different needs, so get into groups and network with intentionality. Don’t procure yourself in these groups but network, fill a need and always be professional.
Attend Target Market Networking Events
Try to attend at least one in-person networking event each year. Meeting potential clients face to face will make all the difference.
Look around to see where in your area your target market is meeting and go.
Networking events allow people in your audience to get to know who you are, and to get an idea of whether they can trust you or want to work with you.
You are not just being exposed to the people in the event, but you are also making connections for future opportunities. People may not need your services today, but they or someone they know may need them in the future.
Remember to be professional! People will not refer someone to you or want to work with you if they think you are unprofessional.
Utilize Your Personal Connections
Your Facebook or real-life friends and family are great avenues to build your virtual assistant business without the use of Upwork.
I have gotten many clients from my friends and family in groups on Facebook or in my community. They necessarily may not be your target market but they can connect you later with someone who is.
Your friends and family will take a mental note of what you have told them you do as a virtual assistant. Once someone is in need of services you can provide, they will remember and refer you to that associate or friend.
Quality work, word of mouth, and professionalism can make a world of a difference in growing your business.
Stand on your own and use the 4 pillars of a successful virtual assistant business that the Virtual Assistants Making Money course covers in depth to progress your business.
Stop wasting your time chasing after low paying gigs and spam offers on outsourcing sites like Upwork.
Learn how to take what you have learned in this article and grow a successful VA business with real clients and lucrative projects.