Newsletter Building for Virtual Assistants

I've been working from home for 5 years now and I haven't started building my newsletter e-mail list until just last year.

I know, right?

All the gurus I listen to are always harping on the e-mail list, and I know that it's important, but it was something that until recently, I couldn't really figure out.

So today, I'm going to break down, step-by-step, newsletter e-mail list building for virtual assistants.

Do you actually need a newsletter as a virtual assistant?

Absolutely yes.

Unless you want to stay on Upwork forever or spend endless hours on Facebook trying to fight other virtual assistants for that one client on the Being Boss Facebook Group who might not actually be ready to hire a virtual assistant anyway.

Your e-mail list is the list of subscribers on your newsletter, who are all potential clients.

This is essentially your waitlist.

So let's put that into perspective.

You have 7 clients right now and you can't really imagine taking on an 8th one, but you know that if any of your clients leave you, you're going to be struggling to replace that income.

But with a waitlist, a client or three can leave at any given notice and you can put an open call out on your newsletter saying you've got a spot open and you're doing discovery calls right now before announcing it to the public.

So what's easier?

a) Building your e-mail list now and always have a consistent flow of potential clients

b) Freaking out that your clients left you and frantically posting on Facebook and Upwork for new clients

(Spoiler: It's option a!)

How do you get people to join your newsletter?

I want to get this out of the way first- you don't need a gigantic list of subscribers as a virtual assistant.

In the marketing industry, yes, they tote about "tripling" your e-mail list and having this huuuuuge list of potential clients, but as a virtual assistant, quality is much better than quantity.

So there are several ways to get people to join your newsletter:

  • Create some sort of "opt-in" (I'll talk about that later in this post)
  • Do a giveaway of free virtual assistance hours
  • Guest blog or be a guest on a podcast

We're going to focus on the "opt-in" section today.

Newsletter opt-ins for virtual assistants

Simply put, an "opt-in" is fancy internet speak for a reason why someone would want to join your e-mail list.

When I was taking on new clients, I had 2 opt-ins that were extremely high converting.

(So high converting that I saw other virtual assistants copy my exact opt-in and use it for themselves.) 

Keep in mind that I am a techie virtual assistant that works with coaches, course creators, and bloggers.

I saw that they struggled with time management, staying organized, and creating landing pages. I made:

  1. A Trello template for business coaches that they can copy + a video tutorial of how to use it
  2. A guide to creating your first LeadPage and how to insert an intake form to get new clients automatically

Basically, you need to:

  • Identify an issue or problem that your potential clients are seriously struggling with
  • Show how they can solve the problem quickly and efficiently
  • Talk about why you designed the solution like that
  • Pitch them to hop on a call with you 
  • Convert them into a paying client

Easy peasy, right?

They subscribed, now what?

Now that potential clients have subscribed to your newsletter, it means that they are interested in you and what you're selling.

Business owners are great to work with because they only subscribe to newsletters if they want to hear from you.

They're quick to subscribe but they're also quick to unsubscribe so you know who is really serious about working with you.

You have to do something called nurturing that list.

What this means is that you are consistently e-mailing your subscribers so they remember who you are and so you can build a relationship with them.

Don't create filler material and ramble about nothing.

Don't just pitch, either.

People want to know more about you, your business, how you got started, and what you can do for them. They do want that relationship with you if they're signing up for your e-mails, so show them that you are worth working with.

Here are some topics that you can send to your newsletter:

  • A round-up of the best blog posts related to their niche
  • Behind-the-scenes of what's going on in your life
  • Snippets of your life and backstory
  • Answering questions from subscribers
  • Spotlight of your clients' successes

Keep it entertaining and true to you. I know that when it comes to writing, you may feel a little bit stiff. I highly recommend working on your writing voice.

You might feel like you're not as interesting as other people or that you don't have anything to say.

You do! You just don't know how to put it into words. Violeta Potter is the copywriter I work alongside and she has helped me SO much in writing my sales pages and finding my voice. Definitely check out her website and download all of her free resources.

The writing portion may not come naturally at first, but PRACTICE! I cringe at my first e-mails I've sent in the past (and some from just a few months ago) but I wouldn't be able to write good e-mails new if I didn't go through the sucky first few e-mails.

More benefits of having a newsletter

When I booked out my virtual assistance business, I decided that I was going to try my hand at a virtual assistance agency (which, turns out, I don't enjoy at all). 

I booked out my agency in 48 hours. How?

I had a waitlist! My newsletter!

I didn't have to do a second of 'hustle' because all I had to do was send a single e-mail saying I was testing the waters of owning an agency and would here is the application to apply to work with my team.

That's all I had to do. 

So, when your business grows and it's time to expand, you don't need to do all the hard marketing from scratch. You just send a few e-mails.

If you decide to build an agency, you already have a list of clients.

If you decide to go into affiliate marketing, blogging, YouTubing, start a Facebook group, sell small products, create a course, your whole audience is already there!

If you don't like social media, or blogging, or podcasting, or putting yourself too out there all at once, that's fine. But make a newsletter.

Have you started building a newsletter?

Let me know how that's going, in the comments below!

Getting Effective Testimonials for your Business

Before we can dive into what makes an effective testimonial, let's talk about the types of testimonials that you do not want for your business.

1. Testimonials from people who don't know what they're talking about

Sometimes you'll get clients who are kinda faking the funk- and that's fine. Some people believe in faking-it-until-you-make-it and that's what keeps them going. However, their testimonial may not always be useful.

For example, when I asked for decent sushi places and I got recommendations from people who have never actually eaten sushi outside of California rolls they bought at Walmart. That's not exactly the best testimonial to get.

You can tell someone doesn't really know what they're talking about, because their testimonials are usually vague and filled with words like "good," and "awesome" and "amazing."

"This service was so good!"

"This food is amazing!"

"This design was beautiful!"

"She did such a great job!"

You get the point.

It doesn't really tell you anything.

2. Testimonials that don't match the result

Sometimes people will write you testimonials to be nice, but they may not have received the result that they were looking for.

And that's not always your fault.

Like, if someone was looking to hire you for website design, but what they really needed was a copywriter to help write their sales page.

Or if someone hired you to help put their Instagram account together but what they really needed was business branding.

They might be completely happy with what you did, but it didn't really positively change anything in their business.

You don't want testimonials from these clients, at least, not now. If they wrote you a glowing review on your website design but everything says "under construction" because their copywriting wasn't in place, it makes your work look disjointed and incomplete (even if it's not your fault!)

Your testimonials should put your best work forward, with a way to show the potential client the whole end result.

3. tESTIMONIALS FROM CLIENTS YOU DIDN'T LOVE WORKING WITH

A testimonial from a client you didn't like will attract more clients like that client.

So if you hated working with Joe because he was slow to respond and was always missing deadlines, making you miss your deadlines, you know that this is something that reflects in Joe's business.

And Joe is going to attract people that are just like Joe. People flock to others who they can relate to.

When people see Joe's testimonial on your website and they're one of Joe's people, you're most likely going to have the same experience with that client as you did with Joe.

I believe that all testimonials have some sort of weight to them and when you're using testimonials from clients you didn't enjoy working with, you're going to bring in more clients you don't enjoy working with.

Asking for the testimonial

Now that we've got the "do not do" out of the way, let's talk about getting a testimonial.

Who to ask

Ask your favorite clients. The dreamy clients. The clients that you wish you could clone and duplicate and have a million of.

You know, the client that when you were done working with them, you sent them an e-mail that said, "IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO FOR YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW," aka please don't go and never ever leave me.

That client.

Getting effective testimonials

We talked about not asking clients who you didn't enjoy working with, so logically, you want more clients that you did enjoy working with. 

You also want to ask clients where you really did something impactful in their business. You helped them get more sales or you completely overhauled a part of their business for them. These are definitely good clients to ask.

When to ask

If you're working on a project by project basis, the end of the first project would be a good time to ask for a testimonial.

If you're working on a retainer basis, I generally wait for six weeks.

Four weeks seems like when they'll get a good feel for your pace and whether they'll keep you.

By six weeks, they should have an idea of who you are and how you work.

You don't need to wait months or years in order to ask for a testimonial.

How to Ask

This is the part that makes most people freeze up because we hate asking for things. But you need to ask for that testimonial because testimonials are as good as cash, especially when it's a testimonial from someone who has a large following or is close to your passion.

There are three ways I ask for a testimonial:

  • If it's a project, I will send a closing e-mail and attach a link to the testimonial questionnaire on it.
     
  • If it's a retainer client, I will actually straight up just ask, "Hey, is it okay if I send you a testimonial questionnaire?"
     
  • I ask for feedback through a 6-week check-in survey and then within that survey, ask for a testimonial. 

So you might be wondering, "Whaaa? A questionnaire/survey? That's so much work." No, bear with me. Here's the thing- a lot of clients are going to just write you a testimonial that's super vague and says, "She's awesome. She's so great."

You don't want that.

But people are terrible at coming up with things on the fly.

Have you ever tried to write an e-mail or a blog post and then ended up just staring at that blank document with the blinking black line, waiting for the paper to be filled with words?

That feeling of, "I don't know what the write," will come over your client, even if they love your work. Writing effective testimonials is an art, not something that comes naturally.

You must prompt your client.

To do this, create some sort of survey or questionnaire. You can use:

  • Google Forms
  • SurveyMonkey
  • JotForm
  • Typeform (I use Typeform because it's pretty).

What to ask

Keep this short and sweet. I know you want a gold mine of testimonials to work with, but even when you put the testimonials on your website, you don't want something that's five pages long.

The most effective testimonials are a few sentences long since most people skim through your website, rather than read every word.

So you want to make the most of that 1.5 minutes someone is reading your site.

Therefore, you have to ask questions that can be answered with only a sentence or two.

The more specific your questions are, the easier it is for your client to answer your questions.

Instead of asking, "How did you like working with me," ask "What was your life like before working with me?" or "How is your business different now after working with me?"

For a swipe file that includes the exact questions I ask my clients on my testimonial form and the testimonials my previous clients have given me, click here.

Crafting the testimonial

You're not done! 

Just because you got the testimonial doesn't mean that your work is done.

Getting effective testimonials

Now you have to piece it together for an effective testimonial. This means deleting the filler parts and highlighting the good stuff.

Getting effective testimonials

The tangible results.

Getting effective testimonials

That's all there is to it.

Feel more confident about asking for that testimonial?

Let me know in the comments below!