stanley-stafford-super-divine-web-designAfter 6.5 years in business, you would expect me to have gleaned a few nuggets of how to find perfect clients, and how to recognise who could be a PITA (Pain In The Ass) one!

I want you all to be as happy as my little office assistant Stanley Stafford and flash your super smiley gnashers because you have SUPER DELIGHTFUL CLIENTS, yay!

This week, my PITA antenna pinged loudly when I received another email from a potential client who wants a new WordPress website.

This person has sent over half a dozen emails asking to arrange a telephone consult, but is then never available when they say are…I’m pretty sure they will be no fun to work with and so I’m walking away from this project.

One less website project fee: yikes! We have a son at university, Christmas is looming, and there’s a much needed January winter sunshine holiday to pay for (we haven’t had one for over 2 years) – you can imagine how tempted I am to hang in there.

BUT I WON’T!! And, I’ll tell you why campers…

When I first started out as a virtual assistant, I accepted every project going so I could pay the bills. I had some fantastic clients (love you FY & CM – you know who you are!!), and one in particular that was…yes a total PITA: zero boundaries – contacting me at daft times of the day or night.

My other half used to dread planning a night out – you could guarantee my phone would start to ping at 10pm or later with yet another War and Peace length To Do list…and then it would start pinging again at 6am…aaarrggh!

Something had to change.

And that change was with me – because it wasn’t the client’s fault – I had allowed them to treat me this way. 

When I accepted this client, I didn’t manage their expectations properly or put in place acceptable contact hours – and they took advantage!

I won’t go into “the straw that broke the camel’s back” conversation, but I’ll let your imagination do the talking!

The relief though, once I had parted company with this client, was immense – and then a light bulb went off above my head! I realised what sort of projects I absolutely LOVED working on, and the kind of projects that made my little heart sink.

So! Here are my top tips to FIND your perfect clients…

  1. Write down what you love working on.
  2. Write down what you hate working on – sounds obvious I know, but you’d be amazed at how many VAs STILL say “Yes” to every single project that comes there way, because of the money trap.
  3. Which industry do you really enjoy working in?
  4. What are your TOP THREE skills? This is important! Don’t be a Jill of All Trades, Mistress of None – get specific and specialise. Am sure you’ve heard this advice before: NICHE NICHE NICHE!
  5. Increase your prices! Don’t make the mistake of charging a super low rate to attract new business – the only thing you will attract are the clients who will not value you, your skills and what you can add to their business. Value yourself and your expertise.
  6. Get a non-friend or family member to look at your website – get their honest feedback.
  7. Update your website to reflect your personality, your TOP THREE services and how you can solve problems to your niche perfect client.
  8. Find a networking group – whether that’s in person or online. I’m part of a lovely Facebook group The Girls Mean Business Club with Claire Mitchell and lots of my work comes from fab women in business that need my particular set of skills. Don’t forget to join in with a Twitter networking hour for your region or niche industry – use Google to find the perfect one for you.
  9. Get as many testimonials as you can and use social media to promote your skills. Every time I get super happy client feedback, it’s slapped all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It works! Offer a referral scheme to your existing perfect clients – I’d say 50% of my projects come via recommendation.

and FILTER the PITA!

  1. First impressions count – how does their initial email or phone call sound? Are they able to to tell you exactly what they are looking for, or was it all a bit vague?
  2. Do they keep postponing client consultation meetings?
  3. Do they take a long time to respond to your emails asking to rearrange?
  4. Do they raise objections about signing your Contract/Terms & Conditions?
  5. Do they quibble about your hourly rate? Stand firm. Be calm and polite, but do not discount your rate. Be confident in your expertise and value-add. A perfect client will happily pay your rate – a PITA won’t!
  6. Have they used a Virtual Assistant before? If they have – try and find out what didn’t work with their ex-VA. You can get an idea from the reasons given what they will be like to work with. If this is their first time using a VA, don’t be afraid to take the lead (in a good way of course) – this is a great opportunity to manage their expectations AND outline your ways of working: days & hours etc. Especially if you are working in different time zones! (This is why I now only work with UK clients).
  7. Find out how tech-savvy they are. Frustrations between VA and client arise because they don’t understand how you work.
  8. Trust your gut instinct.

I’m no longer a Virtual Assistant, as I realised I LOVED being creative and less admin-focused. Hopefully, my experiences over the years can now help you with your blossoming VA business.

If you need any advice about how to market your business effectively, or want a website critique, please drop me a line!

Trace x

Trace at SuperSecetary is an ex-Virtual Assistant now turned WordPress website designer and e-marketing specialist to women in business – and is now called Super Divine Web Design!