How to Create A Streamlined + Consistent Client Onboarding System That Makes Your Clients Super Happy

As a business owner, there are a lot of systems that you need to have in place to be successful: a way to track your statistics + growth over time, a basic bookkeeping system, and creating an editorial calendar that you’ll actually follow. But to me, there’s one system that is absolutely crucial: your client onboarding system.

When someone hires you, the way they’re guided through interest to paying client is your first impression. It gives them a peek into what it’s like to work with you, and if your system is convoluted and broken? They won’t stick around very long. But if your system is precise and streamlined, they’ll be impressed and even more excited to work with you! And that’s what I want to help you with, because I from my own experiences as a fellow business owner just how important it is to impress your new clients.

 

I fell into the world of business on accident in the summer of 2014. My first client was a friend of my mom’s who needed some help managing the social media accounts for her graphic design business. We were chatting at an event and it was essentially: “Indigo, I need help with x, y, and z. Can you help me?” “I can!” “Awesome! Can you start in the next couple of weeks?”

That was my whole onboarding process.

We met up for coffee pretty soon after that, figured out exactly what she was looking for and what my duties would be, and that was that.

My second client was a colleague of my mom’s that had been trying to get help managing her Wordpress site. I emailed her letting her know that I could help, as I had been blogging on Wordpress for over two years at that time. We emailed back and forth for weeks, had a five minute phone call, I got her login info and started doing the work.

By the time I landed my third client in the end of 2014, I realized that something had to change. My system for onboarding my clients was chaotic at best, and I felt like I had my worst foot forward. The reason? I didn’t know what I was doing. I'd fallen into the world of freelancing without meaning to, and had no idea what a proper system looked like. And I didn’t know how to sift through pages and pages of Google results to figure out how to better my system. (Because there are a LOT of results when you Google how to streamline your client onboarding system. An overwhelming number of results).

It took me a year of tinkering, researching, and testing out different onboarding systems to create one that worked like a well-oiled machine. I want to save you twelve months of work by walking you through the exact steps I went through to streamline my client onboarding system so you can begin to improve yours in fifteen minutes. Yes, you read that right! In just fifteen minutes you can start identifying time-wasting steps in your client onboarding process and begin to change them so you are always putting your best foot forward.

All it takes is four easy + essential steps:

1| Map out your current system

2| Identify chaos + convolution

3| Implement changes to improve the system

4| Update the system based on feedback

This workbook is 9 pages built to help you implement amazing changes fast. I walk you through the four steps that I went through to create a client onboarding system that actually works so that you're improving your system in no time. Just enter your name + favorite email below to get instant access!

An Inside Look at My First Two Twitter Chat Experiences

Did you know that you can highlight + tweet any sentence in this post? Try it out! :)

Last week I did something SUPER fun and totally game-changing for my blog + business: I joined two Twitter chats! Specifically, I participated in #nectarchat (where we talked about using social media like a boss) and #ellechat (where it was all about creating catchy headlines). Those two hours were an absolute whirlwind of answering the questions, connecting with other business owners + bloggers, and trying to keep up with everyone!

PSST: I created an exclusive PDF that rounds up all of the resources mentioned in both chats! Download it at the end of this post.

I've been reading for what feels like months about how amazing and great Twitter chats are for expanding your knowledge base, connecting with new people, and growing your blog and/or business. But I've been either too busy, uninformed, or scared of actually participating in a chat. What if I didn't follow the proper etiquette? What if I used the wrong hashtag? What if nobody replied to my comments? I realize now that those fears were just excuses. Because I had a feeling that participating in the Twitter chat movement (as I'm calling it) could start really changing things for me, but that potential was so full of paralyzing fear that I listened to more than anything else.

I will say that #nectarchat was a bit overwhelming -- I was using Tweetdeck to keep track of all the tweets, the replies, the tag, etc. and was trying to keep up with how quickly my feed was moving, both with answering questions and having side conversations with other people in the chat. I was more prepared when I went into #ellechat because I'd already made it through a whole hour-long Twitter chat.

But honestly? Those were two of my favorite hours from all of last week. Because there's something about a Twitter chat that just immediately creates a little community where everyone is welcomed. Side conversations are formed, resources are exchanged, questions are asked, etc. Everyone is sharing what they can and nobody is holding anything back. It's an almost unparalleled social media experience, because it's such an intense, focused hour where everyone is supporting everyone else. Twitter chats are really just something special. If you're looking for new ways to connect with people in your niche/industry, learn + evolve as a business owner and/or blogger, or you just want to see what the fuss is about, I highly recommend joining a Twitter chat. Even if you can't stay the whole hour, you're bound to get a virtual goldmine of information and value!

What are some of my top takeaways from these two chats (that can help you too)?

  • That being consistent + valuable on social media is literally GOLD
  • Batching creation + scheduling of social media updates for an extended period of time (two weeks or one month) actually allows for more opportunities for engagement and connection
  • Headlines shouldn't be an afterthought -- they should help guide + direct + focus your post
  • Think about your headlines as a promise to your reader (are you actually writing about what your post title says you're writing about?)

Have you ever participated in a Twitter chat? Tell me about your experiences below!! :)

Why I Wrote an eBook That Can Lead Potential Clients Out of My Sales Funnel

Did you know that you can highlight any sentence in this post and tweet it?! Try it out. :)

A few weeks ago I shared with you the process I went through when I wrote my first eBook, Your Ultimate VA Crash Course. Today, I want to get into why I wrote an eBook that has the potential to send clients to another virtual assistant. I'm working hard behind the scenes to figure out the best ways to bring more transparency into my blog and business through what I share with you, and I believe sharing my thought processes behind this decision could help you if you're in a similar situation.

 

There’s this idea in business, whether you’re an online business or you have a brick and mortar store, that there aren’t enough customers or clients to go around. That it’s bad business sense to mention someone else in your industry because that potential client could decide to hire the other person instead. This scarcity mindset drives me up the wall, because it promotes an environment of competition over collaboration

I believe that there are more than enough clients for everyone, and that there is the right virtual assistant/graphic designer/copywriter for everyone out there. I know that I’m not the virtual assistant for everyone. I don’t want to be the virtual assistant for every business owner or entrepreneur in the world. Instead, I want to attract and work with my niche market: female entrepreneurs + business owners who want to take their day-to-day operations to the next level. I am passionate about helping people transform their businesses into something that works for them, instead of spending their whole day working for their business.

 

The people I want to work with are interested in having room open up in their life to focus on the bigger picture for their business, instead of being bogged down in the daily nitty gritty tasks.

 

Even though I believed that my eBook could help people, I had this kind of nagging hesitation that I could be making a huge mistake because I could be leading potential new clients straight out of my sales funnel. It’s part of why it took me so long to write the book and go through all of the edits. But eventually I remembered that I don’t want to appeal to or work with every entrepreneur. And that by launching my eBook, I could help more entrepreneurs find their perfect virtual assistants to help them manage, grow, and transform their businesses. Whether that person they hire is me, or if it’s someone else, I’m ecstatic. Because at the end of the day? I want to help as many people as possible get the help they need and deserve in their businesses. And by accepting the fact that not everyone who buys my eBook will want to work with me, it enabled me to shift from a scarcity mindset to one of gratitude because I can walk entrepreneurs through the process of finding their own virtual assistant with the knowledge I’ve gained in my year of being one.

 

This is why I wrote + published an eBook that can lead potential clients out of my sales funnel. Because I believe that the right virtual assistant is out there for every entrepreneur, and I would rather share my knowledge to help you find that perfect person instead of hoarding my knowledge and trying to be the virtual assistant for every business owner.

 

P.S. -- Read all about the process I went through to create my eBook here, and check out this excerpt I shared last month

How I Created My First eBook

As you may or may not know I’ve been spending the past month or so writing my very first eBook, “Your Ultimate VA Crash Course”. It’s somewhere between a book and a workbook, and walks you through every step to find, interview and hire your first kickass virtual assistant.

The book is finished, (and it launches on Thursday!) and I wanted to open up and share the process from inception to completion with you. Keep in mind, this is my own personal process that evolved out of experimentation!

 

1| Find Regina’s 12-hour course creation challenge

I was working on a final paper in May and got bored, so I started checking some of my favorite blogs. I came across Regina’s awesome guide for creating a mini-course in only 12 hours, and was instantly intrigued. I downloaded the guide and immediately started brainstorming. I’ve been wanting to make something for awhile that will help small business owners and entrepreneurs truly elevate their online empires, and suddenly I had a guide that would help me figure out exactly what that could be.

Earlier this year I had put out a question to the Facebook business groups I’m a part of, asking about what people wanted to know about finding + hiring + working with virtual assistants. As a working virtual assistant, I have one realm of knowledge in my head but had wanted to figure out where the gaps in information were -- both for me, and for other entrepreneurs. So I had a whole list of things I knew people wanted to know, and decided to take all of that information and use it to create a product that would answer all the questions I’d gathered.

Going through Regina’s workbook, I came up with the following outline for my eBook. The spreadsheet is based off of an example Regina has in her workbook, and really helped me organize all of my ideas and figure out how all the topics I wanted to cover could fit together. My final organization is a bit different than this, but I wouldn’t have been able to form a coherent narrative without playing around with this outline for awhile.

 

2| Sit down and write

Honestly, this was the hardest part for me. Even though I have experience writing academic papers, blog posts, etc., informational writing for other business owners was completely foreign. I kept psyching myself out of doing the actual writing, but eventually just sat down in my school’s library for a few hours and brain dumped into a Google Doc about every topic I’d created in my outline.

What really surprised me was how much I had in my head about each section! Once I got into the flow of writing, words kept pouring out. Just getting them out of my head and onto the page meant that I was on my way to actually creating this eBook, and that I was one step closer to being able to get it into the hands of people who could truly benefit from it.

I also decided to take a risk and reach out to some of my favorite entrepreneurs and online business owners to see if they would be willing to contribute and got two yesses! I asked them to write a short piece on what it’s like to work with their virtual assistants. The idea behind this is to show the entrepreneurs reading the book how having a virtual assistant can help their business, and allow them to see just how many ways a virtual assistant can impact their business positively.

 

3| Edit, edit, and edit some more

After I’d written everything I thought I could, it was time to get down to editing. I’ve learned from my other writings that taking a break from my material for a couple days and then come back to it with fresh eyes. I decided to put my eBook on hold while I finished out my semester, jotting down any ideas I had for it but not letting myself go back and work on it until I could dedicate 100% of my focus to it.

One of the ideas I had for the eBook while going through finals was to create worksheets, instead of checklists like I had originally brainstormed. That way, people reading the book could actually go through exercises and come up with solutions + answers that are perfect for their businesses instead of me trying to prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution. Because your business is unique to you, and it deserves unique solutions and strategies.

So I spent a while editing what I’d written a couple weeks before, trying out different formatting options, designing the cover, trying to create a cohesive voice + feeling for the eBook. I trimmed out a lot of the excess writing, made the eBook as to the point and focused as possible. This means that while there aren’t an exorbitant number of pages (it clocks in at 29 total), every page is jam-packed with actionable tips, tricks, scripts, worksheets, and knowledge.

 

4| Get beta readers

After I’d finished the first full draft of the eBook, writing it and designing it, I decided it was time to bring in some outside opinions. I put out a call for beta readers in one of my favorite business Facebook groups, and with a racing heart I emailed my eBook to all the amazing women that had responded.

Over the next week or so, I kept getting replies in my inbox that nearly brought me to tears. While I had intended for my eBook to help people in their businesses, my inner fears kept telling me that it never would. So when business owners kept telling me how much my eBook had helped them and impacted their personal and professional lives, I was beyond touched. Beyond grateful. Because that’s why I wrote this book in the first place, to help amazing entrepreneurs and business owners like you get the help you need and deserve. (Click through to the eBook's sales page to see some of the amazing testimonials I received from my beta readers!)

 

5| Final edits and pre-order

Based on the feedback from my beta readers (and my parents!) I changed the formatting, added sections, took sections out, etc. They have all had a hand in how the final eBook turned out, and I couldn’t be more proud of the final product.

While I tweaked the eBook, I set up a pre-order system that went out to my newsletter subscribers first, and then onto my website for all of my readers. The pre-order saves you $4 off of the price of the eBook, as it’s only $10 right now. Once the book launches on Thursday, the price goes up to $14.

I decided to use SendOwl for the pre-order and distribution of my eBook for a number of reasons: 

  • I can create an affiliate program, which allows you to essentially pay off the price of the eBook by sharing it after it’s helped you + your business
  • They automatically calculate EU VAT tax if someone is buying from the EU

  • There’s no percentage taken out of every sale, instead I only pay a small monthly fee to be able to sell through them

 

6| Launch!

On Thursday morning I’ll officially launch my eBook! That’s the final step for creating my eBook: I’ll send out social media updates + emails, change the pre-order forms on my site to “buy now” buttons, and sit steeped in gratitude that I’ve created something that helps entrepreneurs and business owners.

If you are interested in pre-ordering the eBook, enter your name + favorite email below to gain access!

UPDATE -- 7/27/2015

For numerous reasons, I decided to change from SendOwl to Digital Product Delivery. It allows me to save $5 per month and offers more features + value.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Virtual Assistant Candidates

This post is an excerpt from my eBook "Your Ultimate VA Crash Course". 

So you've found a few potential virtual assistants and you're thinking about scheduling an interview or sending them an email with a million and a half questions. Except what the heck do you ask? How you know that you're covering every! single! base!

I've come up with a good number of questions for you to use, based off of questions I've been asked by current + past clients, as well as things that have come up after I've been hired. Feel free to change the wording or disregard ones that don't call out to you or apply to what you are looking for in your VA. I would also advise coming up with some of your own questions, because there are things that will be specific to your business that you'll want to touch on, and that I'll have no way of knowing!

Now, using all of the information from your What to Delegate to Your VA Worksheet and your Are You Ready for a VA Worksheet, you should have a good list of things to pull from when coming up with some of your own interview questions! Start with the Must Delegate list -- is your potential VA capable of performing all of those tasks? How quick of a worker are they? Do the same thing with your Would Be Nice to Delegate list. The idea is to get as much information as possible from your potential VA so there aren't any surprises when you start working together! Also, make sure that you ask about their proficiency with all of the software + applications you use on a consistent basis in your business.

Here are the questions I've come up with, to help supplement the ones you've come up with above:

  • What do you do when you receive an assignment or task?
  • How quickly do you typically respond to emails from clients?
  • What is your fee structure? Hourly, flat fee, a fee per project, etc.
  • How many hours are you available per week?
  • Are you willing to learn how to use new applications?
  • When do you bill your clients? (I bill my long-term clients on the 1st and 15th of every month, but have different billing structures for my packages. Make sure you understand when you'd be expected to pay your VA!)
  • What timezone are you working in?
  • What are your scheduling restrictions?
  • Do you have any other obligations that could interfere with our work together? (Think: college or university students, people who have a full-time or part-time job that are also working as a VA)
  • Do you have any previous experience working as a VA?
  • If I called your current or previous clients, what would they tell me about you?

There are two worksheets mentioned in the excerpt above: the What to Delegate to Your VA Worksheet and the Are You Ready for A VA Worksheet. If you would like to get a sample of the eBook, as well as the Are You Ready for A VA Worksheet, enter your name + favorite email below: