The VA community in the UK and internationally is growing at an incredible pace; more and more people are finding that they can use their skillset to help individuals and businesses without ever having to set foot in their offices…which is amazing!

VAs can essentially work from anywhere, offering any number of business support services, but in a world where VAs are becoming increasingly common, how can you stand out from the crowd (in a good way!)?

There are a number of relatively low-cost ways that you can do this, the majority of which fall under ‘Marketing’ or ‘PR’:

Social Media Marketing – I know that every man and his dog is on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter these days, but as a result, you can pretty much guarantee that some of your potential customers hang out on these social media sites too! Investing a little time and effort into some smart social media graphics, some useful posts or some ‘behind the scenes’ pictures of your business can help to promote your business in the virtual shop window that is a social media platform! Generally, a couple of posts a week is a good baseline to work with, and if you keep an eye on the sources of your website traffic using a tool like Google Analytics, you should be able to see which platforms are sending potential customers to your business.

Awards – I know that awards application forms tend to be long and incredibly dull, but if you’ve got a little bit of spare time that you have available for your own business marketing work it’s worth testing the water with a few different awards! Most awards are free to enter, and being shortlisted as a finalist (or winning the award itself!) is a great thing to promote in your local area or industry. Just don’t feel too disheartened if you don’t win – from experience, some awards have slightly questionable judging criteria! Just try to think of awards applications objectively as a potential marketing resource rather than as definitive proof of your business’s inherent value.

Collaborations with charities – If you have some free time available to carry out ‘marketing and PR work’ for your business, why not consider whether that time could be used to help a charity that you feel passionate about? Helping them with events, volunteering your skills and/or financially supporting them as a sponsor helps you to feel good and can also be really positive publicity for your business; if you’d like to share the details of your charity collaboration in a blog, on your website or on social media, just make sure that you make it about the charity first and foremost!

Training – Make yourself stand out from the crowd of VAs who offer the same services as you by ensuring that your skills are always fresh and up to date by investing time (and/or money) into regular training.  Sometimes, a professional certification in your specific field can be beneficial, though a day spent watching the latest software instructional videos on YouTube can be just as helpful! Whatever you do to enhance your skills, feel free to publicise it on social media – both existing and potential customers will appreciate the fact that you are trying to remain competitive and relevant in your field.

However you decide to ‘stand out’ in your business, there are three core values that I think are key to being perceived in a positive way; Be passionate, be honest, and be good at what you do.

If these remain central to your business at all times, almost any publicity should be good publicity for your VA business.