Got a website? Excellent! You’ve taken an important step toward growing your virtual assistant business and building up your client base. You’ve probably also tackled some pretty big technology challenges, and (hopefully) came through with flying colors.
But is your website doing its best for you and your business? If you’re making any of these mistakes, it may not be…
1. Using a free website platform. Stylists don’t set up shop in the park because they don’t want to pay to rent a chair in a salon. Bakers don’t hang a sign in their kitchen window rather than renting a storefront. And virtual assistants should not set up shop on a free website.
Starting a business requires at least a small up-front investment, and that includes your website. If you want people to take you and your business seriously, you need to present a professional appearance, and that starts with a WordPress website on your own hosting account.
2. Using a free email address. Bundled with almost every hosting plan is the option to create email addresses. This lets you be firstname.lastname@example.org rather than email@example.com. I think you can see that your domain email offers a much more professional feel than a yahoo, hotmail, aol, or other address.
The one exception to this might be if you have a Gmail account that is just your name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Gmail is so widely accepted these days that you can probably get away with this, but I still prefer a domain address for business correspondence. Remember, too, that as of June, 2016, you cannot use a gmail or other free account as the “from” address in your mailing list provider. That means you must have a domain email if you’re building a mailing list.
3. No photos of you. You don’t have to get professional head shots, but you do have to have at least one nice photo of you on your website. It helps potential clients feel like they know (and can trust) you.
I’m not saying you have to have your smiling face in your header (although you can) or that you have to post your picture on every page. I am saying that at a minimum, your “about” page should have a picture of you.
And speaking of pictures, please can we put an end to virtual assistant websites littered with stock photos of smiling, headset-wearing women? Unless you’re a big corporation trying to look as impersonal as possible, ditch these seen-everywhere images today.
4. Getting too personal. Ok, so pictures are definitely personal. And I do love a personal touch on a website. If you can cultivate a unique voice, all the better. Photos and a little personality make me feel like I know you better, and that you’re not that bland corporate entity building a cookie-cutter website. What I don’t love, though, is when the story gets too personal.
Do your clients really need to know that you’re a divorced stay-at-home mom who’s thinking of going back to school in the fall? No. Not only does it take away from what they do need to know (that you have the skills to help them) but it also could potentially make them wonder if you’re going to be as dedicated to their work as they need you to be.
So do get a little personal. Write conversationally. Add your photo to your about page, or your author section, or even to your site header if you like. But save the non-business, ultra-personal details for your Facebook friends or personal blog.
5. Too much you, not enough them. Ever visit a website and see repetitive self-promotional statements such as “We’re your one stop shop” or “We can meet all your needs” or “We work with authors and coaches”? A copywriting friend refers to this as “we-we-we-ing all over yourself,” and while we laugh about it, if your copy reads like this, it’s hurting your sales.Your potential clients are looking for one thing: what you can do for them. They don’t care what skills you have or what training you’ve received or what tools you use. They only want to know how you will benefit them.
So anywhere you find yourself writing “I [do this thing]” or “We [do this other thing],” change it around to your client’s point of view. “I set up and manage social media accounts” becomes “Create an easier, more manageable social media marketing plan.” No mention of what you do, but plenty of incentive for harried entrepreneurs to want to learn more.
6. No calls to action. What is the one thing you want people to do when they visit your site? Hire you? Call you? Schedule an appointment? Whatever it is, make sure it’s clear from the first visit. Ideally, right at the top of the website where they are sure to see it first.
- Use a theme or plugin that adds your contact info to an eye-catching “bar” above your header.
- Include an “above the fold” invitation to schedule a call or receive more information. While the debate rages on about whether “above the fold” is even relevant today, the fact remains that we have the attention span of a gnat. With that in mind, it pays to get to the good stuff before a visitor clicks away.
- Include “hire me” or “work with me” or some other obvious link in your main site navigation, so visitors know what they need to do next.
7. Mixed messages. Your virtual assistant website should be focused on one thing: business. You might also be into dog training, home schooling, or even mentoring other VAs, but those topics belong on separate websites. Including them on your main business site will only dilute your message, and make your ideal client wonder if she really is in the right place.
You don’t have to be a professional designer or top copywriter to have a great website. It’s super easy to set up a WordPress site, install a theme you love, and add a few basic pages. In less than an afternoon, you can have your virtual assistant website up and running and ready to greet potential customers.
Now I want to hear from you! In the comments below, share with me the biggest website blunders you’ve seen (or maybe even done). What would you do differently?