How do I get clients? or Why can’t I find any work? These are two of the most common questions asked on forums. Getting clients can be hard enough when you’re doing all the right things but if you’re asking these questions, is it possible you’re doing all the wrong things without even realising it?

This week I created this advert to recruit up to four new associates in my business, so for once I am the client. I know that not every VA is looking to work as part of a team with others but for some it can be a good move, especially when first starting out. It can give you new contacts, ideas for skills that are needed, niches that work and ongoing work from clients that you haven’t even had to make a sale to.

To be honest I’ve been quite shocked by the standard of some of the responses I’ve had so far. So I thought I’d share a few reasons why I won’t be pursuing some of them.  Are they the reason why some of your prospective clients aren’t hiring you?

1. You can’t follow instructions. If a prospective client has gone to the trouble of posting their requirements and how they’d like to hear from you, they’re the easiest clients in the world to convert. All you have to do is prove you can meet the requirements… and you’re in. If they ask you to email them and provide you with an address – do it. Do not post a reply on their blog post (which by the way doesn’t accept the attachments you told them to look at) with a huge heap of information about you and no reference to how you’d be a good fit for their needs. If they ask for answers to specific questions then, err, answer them.

2. You create too much client effort. Even if a prospect has posted the vaguest of online messages for assistance then if it’s humanly possible to get their contact details then use them. Use a direct message or email and explain exactly how you can help and try and set up a call or meeting to discuss it further. Find a phone number on their business website, or in the about section of their facebook profile. If you want the work then DO NOT leave it to the prospect to contact you. You may well be a social media expert but don’t say. “I’m an expert and here’s my email address”. Write to them and show off why you’re the expert, with examples, and they might just contact you back because they’ll know you’re just the proactive person that they need. It’s your job to make the effort and you’ll probably be rewarded with a new client.

3. Your messages are full of speeling messtakes. I’m sure there are plenty in this article but if you’re writing to a prospective client, especially if their work includes copywriting, then you’d better make sure it’s error free. If you don’t know the difference between your and you’re or their and there then you could be in trouble for a copywriting job, but otherwise at least get someone who does know the difference to read your first message.

4. Your website looks rubbish. If you’re a WordPress expert then chances are that your prospect won’t want to arrive at your site and find it running on the default template, with the default picture, with no understanding of online marketing because that’s – well it’s rubbish. As a virtual assistant your website is your advert to the world and your front door. Make it tidy and make it appealing.

5. You need to clean up your online profile. Many prospects will look you up online before getting back to you. If the first thing they find is that picture of you, drunk in a nappy at a music festival, or that set of nasty twitter messages you wrote to an “ex” friend then you might find the telephone a little quiet.

I hope you didn’t recognise yourself in that list! But if you did, please do consider making some changes and I’m sure your client list will be full in no time at all.