The virtual assistant (VA) industry is rapidly growing. I had an opportunity recently to meet several new and aspiring VAs. Since my husband has been a web designer since the 90's, I'm always interested to see how other VAs structure their website. In the process of review several VA sites, I noted several ways that they could be improved.
I've made some recommendations to a few and received positive feedback. Here are some of the recommendations I've made:
"Since you and I and many service providers don't have actual product, our service and business is us as individuals. You are your business and in order for people to trust you enough to give you their business, they need to get to know you as a person. For that reason I highly recommend that you re-word your content so that it's coming from you as an individual and doesn't seem to be coming from some larger, impersonal group of people. Sometimes we VAs think that we need to look bigger than we really are. However, I've found that more people respond when they know they are dealing with an individual. As the business has grown, my clients and prospects know I have a team to back me up so that I'm not actually doing all the work and being overloaded. Yet they still know me as an individual.
"Another aspect of your prospects and clients getting to know you as a person and feeling a greater sense of trust is visual. I have found more response when prospects can 'see' my face, my photo. Most have commented that they turn away from service providers who do not put their photo on their website. It makes them wondering what you're trying to hide. It doesn't have to be done professionally and cost a lot of money. In fact my daughter does photography and could probably get a great 'business casual' photo of you if you don't already have one. Again, I strongly recommend you put your photo on your website as it creates a stronger connection and feeling of trust.
"I noticed you don't have specific rates listed. There's a lot of various opinions on this matter. So here's mine. In our businesses we have found that posting specific rates increases a prospect's trust and their willingness to contact us. Personally if a website doesn't post their rates, I'll go find another one that does. I don't want to be surprised after having done all the work to find a provider that meets all my expectations but then I have to call to find out their rates are just impossible.
"And one last thing. Since your business is specific to a particular industry, build on that. Your web content should very clearly state who your ideal client is. The services you offer should indicate that very clearly. A little bit of rewriting of your web content, particularly on your services page, would help you define your niche market more clearly."
The responses I've received include:
"Thank you for taking the time to review my website. I really appreciate it and will absolutely be taking your advice."
"I did make the changes you suggested. "
"Thanks for the suggestion and comments about my website. I already updated the figure you mentioned."
6 Tips for Improving Your VA Website
- Get professional help to build or update your website. If you already know how to create a professional-looking website, that's great! But if you don't and are trying to build a site for the first time with tools you are not familiar with, you're likely to end up with an amateurish-looking website. Do your research and get references from the web designer.
- Write your web copy to reflect who you are. Write about yourself using 'I' and 'my'. You are a service provider and as such need to sell yourself. You need to develop a trusting relationship with your prospective client. This can only happen if they can learn more about you, who you are, what you like. Write about yourself, why you chose to be a VA, a bit about what you enjoy doing. This helps your prospect get to know you, feel comfortable and come to trust you.
- Use your photo. There will be a stronger connection and feeling of trust if a client can at least see your photo since you may never meet in person.
- Be consistent. You need a consistent look on your website, on each page, and in your navigation. Otherwise your visitor may get confused or at least feel disconnected as they navigate through your website. This includes using the same color theme and basic layout on each page.
- Provide valuable content. Don't just copy every other VA's site with "What's a VA?" or "List of Services". Create information that's specific to your target so they'll be educated and know that you're the right person for them.
- Post your rates. Some VAs don't post specific rates and only refer to vague discounts. Don't surprise your prospects with your rates when they contact you. Let them know up front what to expect. Make sure to calculate an appropriate rate. You may want to speak to a business coach or another experienced VA to find out how to determine an appropriate rate.
Please let me know what you think of these tips. Do you agree or disagree? Why?