Business owners have realized that social media, from Facebook to Instagram to Yelp, is not going away. But that doesn’t mean they have a lot of time to spend on it themselves!

Often the easiest and best solution is to outsource social media and other administrative tasks to a virtual assistant. As a result, virtual assisting and social media management are growing bigger every day as a legitimate way to make money online.

As you build your business as a virtual assistant or social media manager, you will learn the ins and outs of marketing through social media. Social media marketing is one of the most powerful ways to develop interest in your services.

However, to find clients, social media marketing alone is not enough.

You need to reach the business owners who spend little or no time on social media themselves, and don’t have the time, knowledge, or desire to delve into it.

These people are your ideal clients, because they’re the ones you can help the most. They know it’s an important route to getting customers, but have no idea where to begin.

But at the same time, they aren’t on social media because they don’t have the time, the technical knowledge, or both.

So how do you reach those potential clients? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. These are five of the best, proven strategies for promoting yourself as a virtual assistant or social media marketer and finding great clients.

First, do some market research.
Before you can know how to get the attention of the people you want to serve, you’ll need to know what their questions are and where they’re going for answers.

The first step is doing some keyword research. Your keyword research will help you develop a list of the words, phrases, questions, and topics your clients are thinking and asking about, so you can use them in all of your marketing.

What questions or phrases would your best clients type into Google? Write down as many as you can come up with, and then start doing those searches. Look at the results that pop up and see if that helps you come up with even more ideas for keywords. See if you can find other businesses that have a lot of good results in the searches you’re doing, and click through to see what else they’re writing about.

To be even more effective with your market research, talk to as many prospective clients as you can. You can ask any of your current clients what their biggest questions about social media marketing or getting help from a virtual assistant were before they hired you. If you don’t have any clients yet, start asking around as you go about your regular life. Any time you meet a business owner around town or online, ask them about their social media questions. The more you can do this, the more you’ll know about the problems you’re trying to solve and the better you can speak to your ideal client in your marketing.

1. Have a well-designed website.
A great website is the crux of your virtual assistant business. It’s your online hub and it should act as your own online business card, resume, and “storefront.”

Even if a business owner doesn’t spend time on social media, he or she is surely familiar with the internet and the process of searching for information online. Make sure you have a website that is optimized to catch searches on terms a business owner might use. This is where all your keyword research will come in handy.

On the front page of your website, have big, clear buttons that let potential clients differentiate themselves so you can tell what they need at the beginning. For example, if you offer social media management, have separate buttons for those needing to create a social media presence from scratch, and those who have a social media presence and need help maintaining it.

When the newbie client follows the intended link, have content that explains clearly how social media marketing works, with case studies and testimonials. Make sure those clients you profile are ones that started out like the ones you are trying to reach: knowing that they needed to do social media marketing but with no idea how to go about it.

Don’t forget to collect the email addresses of your visitors. This lets you follow up with people multiple times rather than just trying to catch them during one fleeting visit. Don’t rely on contact forms alone. Offer something to your visitors in exchange for an email address, like a free guide or a checklist they can download.

Finally, make sure your site has links showcasing your own business’ current social media feeds on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Show them that your own efforts are ongoing and up to date. Show them you practice what you preach!

Stay on top of your game.
The online world moves fast. It’s vital to stay on top of new and emerging technologies so you know how to make them work for your clients when they become hot. For example, Pinterest has exploded in the last couple of years from a simple place to stash ideas for crafts and foods, to one of the primary social media marketing platforms.

YouTube and Facebook roll out new functionalities every few weeks, and the best practices for each of those platforms continues to evolve. The big thing right now is messenger bots on Facebook. If you don’t know what that means and you want to be a social media manager, you’ve got some catching up to do!

You need to stay on top of what’s going on with the main marketing spaces as well as what is coming along, because your competition will be. Talking about and participating in new methods will show potential clients that you know what you are doing.

Offer educational media opportunities
What are educational media opportunities? Chances for you to teach potential customers about yourself and your services, while at the same time showing off a particular type of service and getting them thinking about how it could work for them.

Examples of opportunities include:

YouTube videos
Google Chats
Facebook Live sessions
Live webinars
Podcasts
The idea is to produce some sort of “media” (like a recording) in which you teach a specific skill or facet related to the services you offer. If you’re using this to attract new business clients, make sure that what you’re teaching on is relevant to them — not to other virtual assistants (unless VAs are your ideal clients!).

Stuck on what to teach? Go back to your keyword research. Pick one of the frequently occurring topics or questions and talk about that. Tutorials are a nice, quick “win” for educational media, so think about showing a technique for finding great hashtags on Instagram, or how to make a nice Facebook page header image in Canva in 5 minutes or less.

For all live events, make sure you record them and make them available for later viewing by visitors to your websites. And keep track of questions you get from attendees to live events. Use them to further generate content for your site by answering the questions in blog posts or articles.

Blog about online business and your own experiences as a business owner.
A well-maintained, frequently updated blog is a key component of your social media presence. One big reason is that it’s good for your SEO. You’ll be more likely to be found when you’re blogging regularly simply because search engines prefer sites that are updated with some regularity.

Regular blogging also means more opportunities to discover and use keywords that catch the attention of web searches — so not only are you updating frequently, you’re also adding relevant content that search engines want to deliver. Every you update is another chance for someone to find you through an internet search.

Once you get traffic to your site, though, you need to keep them there and — better yet — get them to interact with you. That’s when the quality of what you write comes into play. Keeping a conversational and inviting tone helps prompt readers to comment and ask more questions, or contact you directly by email. You want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, but you also want to sound friendly and inviting. That way, your site visitors don’t feel that they are initiating a contact “cold” when they reach out; rather, they feel like they are continuing a conversation that has already started with your post.

A blog is also a central location for you to show what you know, and what you yourself are learning about social media. You can announce live, interactive events like webinars or Facebook Lives sessions. You can do a debrief after going to a conference or taking some training yourself, sharing what you learned and what you liked and did not like. Demonstrating your own ongoing knowledge and growth is instrumental in convincing prospective clients that you’ll help them do the same.

You can also use your blog to support yourself as an “expert” at what you do. You can answer questions and share useful information and insights, especially when you identify questions that come up over and over again in emailing or talking with potential clients. By making your site a friendly, helpful resource that anyone can access for free, you’re building trust and loyalty — two things that are great to have in any working relationship.

Advertise — online AND offline.
You have a great site with strong marketing copy, lots of blog posts and other content, and compelling offers to attract new clients. Now you have to drive traffic to it.

Of course, there are numerous ways to advertise online, from Google Adwords to paid banners, paying for enhanced listings in search engine results and more. Facebook ads get a lot of attention these days, too, and they’re certainly a valid way to advertise your services.

Lately I’ve found that a lot of virtual assistants are getting traction through Facebook groups. The general idea is to go into Facebook groups where your ideal clients are hanging out, and just look for people who have problems you can solve. Start answering questions. Include links to blog posts you’ve written or to other sites that fully answer the question. The more knowledgeable you are about a problem you can solve, the more likely someone is to think of you when they’re ready to hire help.

But remember, there is a significant market out there who still does not get most of their information online. Embrace offline advertising as well.

Investigate the possibilities of advertising in a local newspaper, neighborhood newsletters, church bulletins, and placing flyers and business cards on bulletin boards in local businesses. Try offering a small package as a giveaway in the fundraising auctions going on near you. You may even discover that placing a radio advertisement or creating a billboard is a viable option that costs less than you expect. You’ll never know until you look into it!

Don’t forget about word of mouth marketing, too. Reach out to satisfied clients and offer them deals to recommend you to friends and colleagues. A great way to encourage this is to offer a coupon or discount to both the recommender and the friend.

In all cases, make sure your website address is a prominent feature in every form of advertising. Your goal is to get more people to take a look at what you have to offer, and hopefully give you an email address where you can continue to reach out to them.

Just get started.
Creating your own virtual assistant job is complex and requires attention and effort, but that effort will pay off. Do whatever you can to make that first connection with a potential customer, and that will open the door to opportunities to convert that prospect into a paying client.

The most important thing you can do right now is to start. Do something. Take baby steps if you need to but keep striving for progress. You’ll never know when the next big opportunity will show up for you, but you’ll only be able to snag it if you’re out there, doing the work!