Do you know that saying, ‘fake it ‘till you make it’?
What would you think if we told you that sometimes, it’s actually true?

When you’re starting out as a VA, there’s a key question that comes up time and time again with just about every single person we talk to– “how do I develop a portfolio or gain experience when I’m just starting out? I don’t have any clients!” Raise your hand if you feel that way.
I see your hand and I want to tell you that you CAN develop a portfolio without a single client. Fake it ‘til you make it is the answer.

You may not have clients yet but you have skills and you know which services you want to offer clients when you start working with them (if you don’t know this yet, that’s step one!). Use this knowledge to create what we are lovingly referring to as a “Case Study” Portfolio.

A “Case Study” portfolio is filled with case studies of ideal clients that you curate work for. You mock up the work you WOULD do if this client was actually yours. This will showcase exactly what your skills are, how you assess your clients’ needs and how you plan to take your client to the next level with your unique skill set and offerings.

The next question I know you’re asking is, “But, Noella! How do I even know what to put in my case study portfolio?!”. Girl, I’ve got you covered.

INCLUSION 1 – Ideal Client Profile

Write out an ideal client profile that tells the reader who exactly the client is. Be sure to include all of their ‘ideal client’ kind of points including business name, where they are based, what they do (products or services, etc), who their ideal client is and why and all the other nitty-gritty details that would turn them into a full-fledged business. The point of this is to make this made-up business YOUR ideal client so you can really showcase all the ‘wow!’ and skills you can bring to the table.


INCLUSION 2 – Pain Points

You start by showing off the business for the case study, then you bring forward their pain points; what is it this company needs help with? Where are they struggling? Ideally, their pain points will be the areas that YOU can help in. For example, if you’re all about organization and want to handle the day in and day out logistics for a company, a pain point could be that this case study client grew fast and needs help getting process and systems in place for daily management, then daily maintenance. If you offer social media strategy, the pain point could be that they are struggling to be a cohesive brand presence on social media. If you offer email marketing, the ideal client perhaps had never thought of using email marketing before until it clicked one day when the client was reading through emails that landed in their inbox.

Whatever the pain point is, write a story and make it authentic. All businesses have pain points so be realistic with what a case study client could actually be going through.


INCLUSION 3 – Offer Solutions

You just presented the pain points of your case study client, so now, offer the solutions! The solutions would be your rundown of the strategy you would implement to get them on track with their goals… you’re more than the Advil to their headache– you’re the 8-glasses of water a day, nutritious meals, moderate exercise and face mask they need to make REAL, long-term change happen!

Be sure to offer more than just one option. For most case study clients, suggest 2-3 things you would do to help.


INCLUSION 4 – Mock It Up!

Time to mock up the suggested solutions to the pain points! If you suggested that you could implement a social media strategy, mock up a grid in Planoly, shoot some content and whip up some graphics. If you suggested an email marketing strategy, do up a template in MailChimp or Active Campaign and include the freebie and the content that would go in the first 1-3 emails of the email marketing strategy.

This is where you have the opportunity to SHINE! Go ALL OUT with your mock-ups. When you give 110% on your mock-ups, the potential client viewing your portfolio will be sitting there thinking ‘wow-this wasn’t even a real client… imagine what they’d do for my business!’ The effort you put into your mock-ups has a direct correlation on the impact your portfolio will have on a potential client.


INCLUSION 5 – Describe the Mock-Up

Add little detailed tidbits on some of the little, yet crucial, details you included in the mock-ups. Were you meticulous about the branding colours and styles incorporated into the email templates? Did you actually write that blog that you made a tile for and put into the Planoly grid? Add a few “key features” sentiments for each mock-up to really show your ‘above and beyond’ perspective.


Our next best tip is to house all of this on a secret page on your website. A secret page is a page that is published, but there is no link to anywhere on your website. This is a link that you can send to someone when you want to share your portfolio with them. The beauty of housing it online is that most potential clients will be reached out to via email. The simplicity of ‘click the link to see my portfolio’ is much easier than the ‘click the PDF to download, then open and review, my portfolio.’ One click gets them looking at your work faster and a link is easier to share if there are other individuals involved in the decision-making process. Plus, viewing a webpage on a mobile device is often easier than viewing PDFs!

Fake it ‘till you make it isn’t always the way to go, but when you’re entering the VA game and don’t have any clients yet, it is simply the best way to showcase your drive, your talent and the skills you’d bring to the table when working with clients. It shows you KNOW what you’re doing, have the skills and resources to do what you say you can do and it will wow potential clients to see how much you care.

Want to learn MORE secrets to make life as a VA sweeter? Propel To Digital Freedom launches soon. Get on the waitlist for a top-secret discount code so you can join and take on the VA world like the superhero you are.

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