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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
If your life’s dream is to ditch your 9-5 and make a living while traveling the world, then you’re in the right place. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to be a social media influencer with 300k followers or a website with 100k views/month to make it happen! In this post, I explain exactly how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant and, subsequently, how to become a successful digital nomad.
How to Get Clients as a Virtual Assistant with No Experience
It’s a cliche but I’ll say it anyway, my semester abroad changed my life. You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point, but it’s true! Admittedly, most of my activities that semester involved drinking copious amounts of Italian wine. But let’s be honest, if Italian wine isn’t life changing, I don’t know what is. Besides decimating my bank account and bringing me to the brink of liver failure, that semester in Rome helped me define what I wanted my life to look like. When you’re 20, that kind of clarity is invaluable.
After moving back to Italy for a year and a half, followed by a travel job in Chicago that lasted all of three weeks in light of the pandemic – March 2020 found me spontaneously unemployed and completely lost.
After being unemployed for a few months, a friend reached out about a course I might be interested in. The course was Kat Ann Coaching’s The VA Vault.* The course wasn’t cheap and I was unemployed, so naturally I was skeptical. Thankfully, I went for it. It was the starting point to living my digital nomad lifestyle.
*Unfortunately, Kat Ann is no longer offering this course or any online courses.
Fast forward almost three years and I’m traveling the world while making a living…fully remote! I spent the last eight months traveling around Southeast Asia and the year before that living the island life in Roatán, Honduras. I’m currently working with 10 clients (some international) and managing four part-time assistants. If this sounds like heaven to you…keep reading to learn how to find clients as a Virtual Assistant!
Useful Skills When looking for Clients as a Freelance VA
The best thing about being a Virtual Assistant is you can tailor it perfectly to your specific skill set. Before taking the plunge and purchasing the VA Vault, I killed the boredom of unemployment by taking tons of social media and blogging courses online. These courses ended up being invaluable in the long-run, since many of the skills I learned to grow Madison’s Footsteps Travel Blog also apply to growing my clients’ brands.
There are many different types of clients for Virtual Assistants. My tasks and responsibilities as a Virtual Assistant vary completely client to client. One of my clients hired me exclusively for SEO and Pinterest. Another wanted social media growth and content creation. Yet another needed my help building a WordPress website from scratch. Basically, if it relates to digital marketing, chances are I’ve dipped my toe in it.
That being said, there are some skills that I use much more frequently than others. As of January 2023, my main tasks include social media strategy and content creation, graphic design, SEO strategy, website design and copywriting. Depending on your skills and interests, that list will vary greatly VA to VA. Remember: there are many different types of Virtual Assistants.
Online Courses to Give you Experience Working with Clients as a Virtual Assistant
Online courses are key when learning how to get your first client as a Virtual Assistant. However, depending on your education and skill level, you may not need to take any courses before finding your first client. Since my degree was in Journalism and I knew very little about social media or blogging, online courses are what qualified me to work as a VA in the digital marketing sphere.
Virtual Assistant-Specific Courses
90 Day VA: Virtual Assistant Internship is one of the most valuable resources out there for aspiring VAs. Founded by military spouse Ester Inman, her course 90 Day VA gives you all the knowledge you need to become a virtual assistant to earn money online.
Courses in Social Media Strategy
The Influencer Bootcamp: Christina Galbato’s Influencer Bootcamp was a turning point for me in my career. I started my personal brand, Madison’s Footsteps, back in 2017. The only problem was…I had no idea what I was doing. My photo editing skills were shit, I had no idea how hashtags worked, I was replying to “collab?” comments on posts and the only Instagram engagement strategy I used was follow/unfollow. After the Influencer Bootcamp, I grew my Instagram from 4.8K (which took three years to reach) to 8.5K in just three months. I started collaborating with brands and have even worked with five different hotels!
TikTok for Dummies: Although TikTok isn’t my platform of choice, it’s important to have a basic understanding of all social media platforms as a digital marketing VA. TikTok for Dummies, by SoulCial Media, is the perfect introduction course to TikTok. At only $35, it’s also a total steal.
Facebook Ads Masterclass: This course by Coastal Collective was a turning point in my understanding of Facebook advertising. Many clients require organic and paid social, so it’s valuable to have even a basic understanding of Instagram and Facebook’s ad platforms.
The Blogger Bootcamp: Another one of Christina Galbato’s courses, The Blogger Bootcamp was a game-changer when it came to my success as a blogger. Before this course, I had no idea how SEO worked, my Pinterest had about 300 views/month, I had 20 subscribers over three years and my blog was hosted on WordPress.com. After implementing the strategies I learned in the Blogger Bootcamp, I have countless blog posts ranking on the 1st page of Google, my Pinterest receives 22K views/month (with minimal effort) and my email list is growing every day! Click below for my review of The Blogger Bootcamp.
Travel Blog Prosperity: This nurturing community of bloggers and travelers is the perfect resource for both new bloggers (who don’t know where to start) and experienced bloggers who aren’t getting great results. It’s a monthly Teachable subscription is created by travel blogger Jessie on a Journey and filled with 59+ premium blogging courses, 21+ workshops, 2 monthly live Q/A calls, a free 15-minute onboarding call with Jessie and a welcoming community designed to make your travel blog succeed. Honestly, if your goal is to make money blogging, I would go as far as saying this is the most valuable resource on this list.
Although “technically” the doors are closed, I’ve got a special code to get you backdoor access! Click here to sign up for Travel Blog Prosperity or watch Jessie’s FREE webinar How To Turn Your Travel Blog Into A Profitable Business: A 4-Part Profit Plan. Use code MADISON9 to get your first month for only $9!
Travel Blogging Success 101 (FREE): A free course by Mike & Laura Travel, Travel Blogging Success 101 is a great resource for those trying to blog on a budget. In this five module course, you’ll receive valuable tips for niching down, setting up your blog and monetizing your hard work. You’ll also get access to the Facebook group where Laura uploads helpful videos about mastering SEO and more.
Pinterest with Ell: Mastering Pinterest is a solid strategy for getting more page views on your website. There are very specific (and constantly changing) strategies that lead to running a successful Pinterest for Business account. At only $39, there’s no excuse not to start growing on Pinterest ASAP.
Master SEO on Pinterest (FREE): Justyn Jen is a travel blogger who has built her career around helping other bloggers achieve Pinterest success. Although she offers a comprehensive Pinterest course for $447, if you’re not ready to spend that kind of dough I would recommend downloading her free guide to mastering SEO on Pinterest. Simply scroll to the bottom of her homepage and enter your email.
Photo & Video Editing Courses
Master of Photoshop: Amy Seder is one of my favorite travel bloggers of all time! So naturally, when Away Lands came out with a course divulging all their editing secrets, I had to try it out. This course drastically improved my editing skills. It also convinced me to make the switch from Adobe Lightroom to editing in Photoshop Camera Raw. I’ve never looked back! (Course no longer available 😭).
Adobe Photoshop CC – Essentials Training Course: Depending on your client, Adobe Photoshop skills could seriously come in handy. This course on Udemy costs only $16 and teaches you Photoshop essential skills in a simple and easy-to-digest way.
Adobe Photoshop CC – Advanced Training Course: If your client requires a deeper understanding of Photoshop, considering taking the advanced course as well.
Must-Have Tools for Virtual Assistants
If you’re wondering how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant, the second step in the process (after binging some online courses) is to stock up on all the necessary online tools. Keep reading for my favorites.
Pinterest, Blogging and SEO
Tailwind: If Pinterest is involved in any of your VA responsibilities, Tailwind is a must! It’s the only Pinterest-approved scheduler and makes it super simple to schedule out weeks of Pinterest content ahead of time. Tailwind will suggest smart schedules when your audience is most active, allow you to set up board lists and even has a “Tailwind Create” feature to help design pins.
Keysearch Starter: The best SEO research tool. Keysearch makes it easy to find the perfect keywords to rank on Google. It allows you to check your rankings for keywords you’ve already used on your site, shows you which of your competitors are ranking for certain keywords and offers a handy “content assistant” tool where you can draft your blog posts. I’m writing this blog post in Keysearch’s content assistant tool as we speak!
Graphic Design and Editing
Canva Pro: You cannot be a virtual assistant without Canva PRO. Trust me, if there’s any program to invest in right away, this is it. I spend at least two hours on Canva every single day. I use it for every single one of my clients as well as my own brand.
Adobe Photoshop: My favorite editing software! I use Photoshop Camera Raw to edit all my photos on my blog and Instagram…not to mention constantly editing out pesky tourists cluttering up my photos.
Adobe Lightroom: Although I prefer Photoshop Camera Raw, Lightroom is the more popular option when it comes to photo editing. For either one of these programs, I would suggest not wasting your time with the free mobile version. The desktop version will make your life 1,000% easier and it only costs $10/month for both.
Social Media Creation and Scheduling
OnlyPult: In terms of social media schedulers, I greatly prefer OnlyPult over Hootsuite. I find it easier to use and it’s much more affordable. They’ve just released a new feature which allows you to schedule IG Reels.
InShot App: I love the free InShot app for short-form video editing. It’s easy to use and has all the features I need. (Edit: as of January 2023, I finally switched to the paid version for better transitions and video filters).
Mojo App: I use Mojo for both clients and my personal brand. Mojo allows you to create beautiful and professional looking Instagram stories in a fraction of the time. For $30/year, it’s definitely worth upgrading to the Pro version.
SCRL App: SCRL is my newest obsession for IG Reels. You know when you see those trending reels with transitions that are so perfectly timed to the hit song behind them? SCRL helps you make these perfect reels for 1/4 of the time and effect.
Tunnel Bear VPN: If you’re planning on traveling while working as a digital nomad, a reliable VPN is an essential tool. My favorite VPN is Tunnel Bear and not only because the bear growls adorably every time it connects.
My First Client as a Digital Nomad
I was very lucky in the sense that I was one of Kat Ann’s very first students of the VA Vault. Since she is the guru on all things Virtual Assistant, she receives countless requests from entrepreneurs looking to hire VAs. When her course was new, it was common for her to give you your first client upon finishing the last module. This is how I received my first client as a VA and we are still working together today!
Since then, I’ve expanded my business to include multiple clients. Of my currently 10 clients: one was referred by Kat Ann, a couple were referred by word-of-mouth, one found me through my blog posts about Roatan and a couple others had submitted job postings on Facebook groups I am a member of. I even found a client walking into a dive shop in Indonesia!
How to Get Clients as a Virtual Assistant
Community is key. The more you surround yourself with entrepreneurs and people trying to ditch their 9-5s, the more Virtual Assistant jobs are going to become available to you. If you’re wondering how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant, trust me, start here 👏🏼
Start by forming a clear picture of your ideal client. Make a list of ideal hours, ideal tasks and responsibilities, ideal opportunities for growth and personality traits you work well with.
From there, join and stay consistently active in niche Facebook groups like…
…and posting in them advertising your services for virtual assistance (if the group rules allow). However, since many of these groups ban self-promotion, the best strategy is often scrolling through the discussion and replying/applying to any relevant job listings there. I would suggest turning on post notifications so you’ll know right away when someone posts about a new opportunity.
If you’re joining Facebook groups specific to a location (ie: Girls in Bali), I suggest making sure the timezone is somewhat compatible with your own. Otherwise, location doesn’t matter. We’re nomads girl, eat it up!
Another way to find Virtual Assistant clients is through Instagram or other platforms like TikTok. If you have a good-sized following, post on your stories advertising your services. Make sure to use relevant hashtags like #virtualassistant #socialmediastrategist #pinterestguru.
Additionally, it’s easy to tell which social media influencers could be in need of a VA (if you know what to look for). Look for influencers with large audiences who don’t keep up on responding to comments and don’t respond quickly to DMs. Chances are, they need someone to help them with those tasks.
Tips for Juggling Multiple Clients as a VA
When asking yourself how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant, learning how to juggle multiple clients is key. Juggling multiple clients at once can be challenging but, unless your client is offering you full-time hours, it’s a necessary skill. This is where project management tools come into play.
Personally, I’m obsessed with Trello for project management. The free version allows you almost all the features you need and it’s an amazing platform for collaboration and communication. Below is an example of one of my Trello boards. Each board is separated into lists and each list is separated into cards. I create a separate board for each client, add them via email as a collaborator and begin separating out tasks, login credentials, important deadlines and inspiration into lists. For example: If I create a list called “login credentials,” the cards under that list might be “Canva,” “Instagram” and “Hootsuite.” Inside those cards I would list the corresponding passwords.
In terms of team communication, I keep it simple and stick to WhatsApp group chats. You can tag members of the group chat in messages to bring things to their attention immediately. During my time working in Florence, our company utilized Slack to communicate with 50+ team members separated across three different countries.
Work Samples for Potential Clients
When searching for new clients, it’s always smart to have some work examples on hand. This could be your resume, similar projects you’ve worked on in the past, your website or any relevant social media accounts.
When I started as a VA, Madison’s Footsteps was already established across multiple channels. I felt that my Instagram, Pinterest and travel blog were sufficient in communicating to clients the scope of my work. For this reason, I did not create any VA-specific social media channels or sites at this point. If you’re just starting out, creating VA-specific channels could be helpful when searching for clients.
It’s important to note that since starting out, I’ve created a branded sales page hosted on my travel blog that showcases my work as a VA. I also have a PDF Portfolio that is useful to send to business owners and potential new clients.
How to Find a Virtual Assistant
Although the purpose of this post is to show potential VA’s how to get Virtual Assistant clients, it can also be used to teach the ins and outs of finding a Virtual Assistant for small business. Now that you know how to find Virtual Assistant clients, you can search for VA’s in the places you know VA’s are looking for work. Join Facebook Groups and post listings with specific details on the tasks you’re looking to outsource, required skills, weekly or monthly hours and an idea of your target salary.
You can also search for Virtual Assistants on Instagram using relevant hashtags, or use a popular freelancing site like Upwork or Fiverr.
Part of how I became a Virtual Assistant has to do with my personal travel brand, Madison’s Footsteps. I started Madison’s Footsteps back in summer of 2017 after my study abroad semester as a creative hobby. It was only in 2020, after the start of the pandemic, that I became serious about growing and monetizing the brand.
This year, my focus has been on scaling my Virtual Assistant business and Madison’s Footsteps Travel Blog. Social media has taken a backseat in favor of growing my email list and publishing regular blog posts. If you decide to invest in Christina Galbato’s Blogger Bootcamp, you’ll get plenty of advice on not putting all your eggs in one basket…especially if you don’t OWN that basket. With the changes to the Instagram algorithm and the constant security issues on the platform, I’ve decided to invest 90% of my energy and budget into my website www.madisonsfootsteps.com.
If you have any questions about how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant or about living the digital nomad life, feel free to jump into my DMs or send me an email at [email protected]! I love to help like-minded travelers achieve their dreams of traveling the world.
If you enjoyed this post about how to get clients as a Virtual Assistant, you may enjoy the related posts below. And be sure to follow along for the adventure on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!