Step by Step Guide for your own Virtual Assistant Website

So you have started your business (or going to) and want to have a website to advertise your business.  You have defined your objective, know what type of audience you are after and have an idea for what you want to accomplish.  Where do you go from there?  Here is a step by step guide to creating a website for a virtual assistant business.

Step 1 - Outline - Take a paper out and make an outline of what you want on your website.  Don’t format farther than an outline.   This will help pre-plan the project.  Look at what you came up with, move it around, delete sections, etc.   Listed below is a sample outline that includes pages you may want to include on your website.  Some VAs don’t want a quote form, some may not want a static price list.    There are great sites on the internet that are basically online business cards, as well as great sites with a vast amount of information.   It is up to you.

A sample outline:
  • Home Page
  • What is a VA?
  • How do you do your services/How a VA works
  • Benefits of a hiring a VA
  • Link to Industry Articles
  • List of Services (do you want a different page for different services such as web design, administrative duties, event planning, etc)
  • Price list/Rates
  • How payments are handled
  • Feedback form for quote
  • Testimonials/References
  • Client List
  • About us
  • Technology/Equipment
  • Certifications
  • Resumé
  • Press Releases/Media
  • Contact Information
  • More information form
  • Links

Step 2 - Layout - Start thinking of your layout. The outline may have your basic layout but there are other considerations.  What elements will you want on every page.  Which areas make sense to put on your navigation bar and which should be sub-categories.    

A few highly recommended items you may want on every page:

A Quality Logo - Depending on your graphic abilities you may want to pay to have one created – two resources are: The Logo Creator and Logoworks - Get a great logo in 72 hours! used the free demo version of The Logo Creator to create:

A Copyright Message - Keep your content protected.  This will usually go on every page at the bottom.

Navigational Bar - Link back and forth to all the pages in your website.

Step 3 – The “Feeling” of the website -  Decide if you want a corporate look, do you want a warm and fuzzy feeling website, high tech?   One consideration in deciding your look maybe your niche market or maybe just personal preference.

Depending on your style you may want to include graphics that keep to  your style.  Always keep in mind the size of your files, the smaller the better. 

Microsoft Clipart gallery is the most common.  Here are some links to some galleries where you can pay for quality clipart  Corbis BizPresenterPhotoSpin -

Step 4 – Layout / Design - Take a look at your outline, the elements you want on any page, what your navigational bar may include, a concept of the graphics and logo.  Using a note pad start laying out your website.  Try several different layouts till you find the layout that appeals to you.  It is almost time to start actually constructing the website.

Step 5 – Domain name -  You have your company name but is the domain name available.  Think about what you want your url  to look like.  It will depend on if you choose to host your site with a free service or with a web site host.  To play with different combinations of urls and see what is available you can type in ideas at

Step 6 - Hosting your website - Time to make some of the hard decisions in building your website, the financial decisions.  There are places you can create a quality website for free.  The down-side to those programs is they usually include pop up ads, many times you can’t have a unique url and to upload and update your website you have to may have to upload file by file (each page, each graphic file, etc) and if you ever upgrade it tends to become more expensive than other web hosting packages currently advertised.  The up-upside to the free services is they are free, many have pre-made templates and you can get a website up very fast.   Here are some free services: Angelfire  iVillage

It is all a matter of personal opinion and finances, but the most professional looking sites are the ones where you have your own domain name, and can set up your email to  There are many inexpensive plans out there that will  include a domain name for free for the first year and have options the free programs charge extra for.   As the competition grows and the technology advances the cost of your own domain and website is getting lower and lower.  Here are some of the plans offered as of the writing of this article:

Globat – For as low as $7.95 a month (when billed yearly)  includes registering your domain name,  300 MB Web Space, 30 GB Data Transfer, YourName.Com, 24/7 FTP Access,  Flash, PHP4, PERL5,  Frontpage 2002 Support,  your own cgi-bin, 300 POP3 mail Accounts, Web-based email  (, Real Time Tech Support, 24/7 Signature support,  Web Control Panel

Infinology – This company offers an outstanding package for $6.95 a month (when billed yearly). Voted #1 by Cnet, 9000 MB Disk Storage  Space, 50,000 MB Data Transfer, YourName.Com, 24/7 FTP Access,  Flash, PHP 3 & 4, PERL Support,  Frontpage 1998 2000 & 2002 Support,   Web Control Panel, Webalizer and more.

Jumpline – Costs a bit more per month.  $11.95 for a 2 year commitment, no set up fee, $20 for your domain name. 7,500 MB of bandwidth per month 200 MB disk space 100 email accounts (POP3) Website Manager,  Microsoft FrontPage® 2000 support 24/7 technical support, PERL 5.005_03,  PHP 4, Cisco enterprise routers, Dell PowerEdge Servers, 99.9% Server Uptime, Email forwarding (Aliases),  50 autoresponders,  Web-based email (NeoMail), Email forwarding.

Now the basic design has been laid out, you have decided on a service to host the website, decided on your url,  it is time to build the website.

Step 7 - HTML Editor - Unless  you want to learn HTML and various scripting you need a good HTML editor.   There are many good HTML editors out and many are free.  With Internet Explorer you get Frontpage Express and Netscape has Composer.  Purchased programs have the most features, options and are easy to use and update.   Two popular programs are Microsoft Frontpage and Dreamweaver. Product Description
Microsoft FrontPage 2002 is a Web site creation-and-management solution that gives you the tools you need to create and control professional-quality Web sites. FrontPage version 2002 has been designed so you can create exactly the site you want. You can use new PowerPoint-like drawing tools and automatic web content to make your Web site more exciting and dynamic. If you're familiar with HTML editing, you can also use FrontPage to save time with the new paste options smart tag, a new streamlined user interface, and new optional HTML and XML reformatting. You can also manage your Internet or intranet Web site more effectively by using the new usage-analysis tools, top 10 lists, and enhanced reporting capabilities. And you can use the new technology in the SharePoint Team Services team Web-site solution to create customized team Web sites to store, find, and communicate information.

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX Product Description
Build Web sites and Internet applications with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. Work within one environment to easily create and manage any professional Web site, whether it's built using HTML, XHTML, XML, Web services, ColdFusion, ASP.NET, ASP, JSP, or PHP. Dreamweaver MX is a complete solution combining the visual layout tools of Dreamweaver, the Web application features of Dreamweaver UltraDev, and the code editing support of HomeSite.

Once the html editor has been chosen, familiarize yourself with how it works. Take the tutorial and get a feel for what you can do with the program.   Start off as you would with any word processor or desktop publishing software and what you can do with  the program works.  How to lay your information.

Step 8 - Content of Website - Once you have become familiar with the html editing program and have created your basic look/layout.  (background, where your nav bar will be, where your main text layout will go)  you can start putting your information in from your outline. Let's take the outline in Step 1 and use that for the basis of an example VA website.  Every website will have its unique feel and information depending on your business needs and your personal preferences.  Take a look at other VA website to get ideas, but please do not plagiarize or steal content.   Not only is it morally wrong, it is illegal.

HomePage  - Should have your logo, navigational  bar to other pages, copyright info and content you have come up with.

What is a VA? - What benefits will you give your clients?   Why should they hire a virtual assistant?

How do you do your services/How a VA works?  How do you handle communications? 

Benefits of a hiring a VA

Link to Industry Articles  There are many links you can use as a resource for hiring a VA, what a VA is etc.  For a list of articles you can check's VA Articles. 

List of Services (do you want a different page for different services such as web design, administrative duties, event planning, etc)

Price list/Rates  Some Virtual Assistants prefer not to list their prices so list them.  It is up to the individual to list or not.

How payments are handled Some items to take into consideration, will you take credit cards, PayPal, accept checks?  What are your terms net10, net 30, payable upon receipt

Feedback form for quote

          Client List  

About us -  You may want to include a short bio paragraph about your work history, why you started your business, or some personal information on your skills.  You can list the following on the page or link them to two more pages:

Portfolio of Work - Do you have websites you have created, link them here, do you have any graphics or samples of your work.  You can have a page to show some samples of projects clients have asked you to do.  Ask permission from any company before posting any jpg or graphic of a job done.
Certification - Do you have certifications, Brainbench certificates
Resumé - Some VAs post  their resumé on their website, one reminder if you do, take off your personal home address and phone number.

Technology/Equipment - List what software and equipment you know and own.

Press Releases/Media - Have any press release?  Have you been mention in the medial. 

Contact Information - Name, phone, fax, address, email. 

Links - Exchanging links with other websites increases your placement on some search engines.

Step 9 - Keywords, Meta Tags -  Meta tags are key words to help the search engines find your website.  They are placed in the header, in the actual html coding.  The meta tags must come in between <head.>  </head> in your html code.

<META NAME="keywords" content="keyword 1, keyword  2, keyword  3, etc.">  Examples of key words maybe, temp, secretary, office assistant,  home office, pa, outsourcing, personal assistant, virtual assistant, affordable, office services, word, excel, macros, spreadsheet, powerpoint, presentation, office administration, proofreader, your city, your specialties, wordprocessing, office support.....

<META NAME="description" content="This would be your description of what is on your page.  Should be one or two short sentence description..">

Step 10 – Uploading your website to the new space -  Many programs have built in ftp programs.  You type in your url address, logon name and password and it will automatically ftp the site.   For those who don’t have that option or the web space doesn’t provide the server side features for these programs you can use Cuteftp or WSftp.

Step 11 - Finishing touches - .Your site is done, and uploaded -   Before you announce it, double check your spelling and grammar, make sure your graphics are working, and there are no dead links. Netmechanic has some free features to test your site such as  Fix HTML Code Errors including spelling errors and broken links, search engine optimization, they have GifBot where it reduces the sizes of your graphics and many  more resources on promoting your new website.

Step 12 - Submitting to search engines.   Here are some steps and tips to get your site submitted and some tips to help your websites placement.  

Hand submit your site to the search engines.  Many search engines look for different elements in determining your placement.  Research what you need to do to optimize each search engine.   Elements to optimizing where you are place are:

Title Tag - The Title tag is the text you see at the top of your browser when you open a web page.  It is in the header and placed in between <TITLE> your description </TITLE>  The tag should be no longer than 80 characters.  It can help placement in search engines if you can use some of your key meta words in the title.

Meta Tags - Keywords should be in the header, do not use the same word more than once but you can and should use plurals (secretary, sectaries) and you can use phrases, virtual assistants, virtual office, but don't use the word more the 3 times in the completed meta tag.  Use words that accurately describe your business.   Put the most important words at the beginning of the list.   Are any of the words easily misspelled virtual , vitural?  Make sure you use important key words in your meta description.

Body of Page Text - Make sure your key words are included in the top half of the body of your main text for website.  Do not hide text in same color content 

Alt Image Tags - Name your images, in Frontpage and Dreamweaver  there are places to type the title of the image, if you use a different program or able to do it manually by html write up put it in the html like this  <IMG SRC="AdminProfLogo.gif" width="100" height="100" alt=" information for  Virtual Assistants">

Problems: A site that uses frames, dynamic urls, sites that use Flash, and javascript navigations.  Text that is camouflaged. (you have a white background and type white text to achieve more keywords and phrases for your placement.)

For more on search engines and placement here are a few links to places that will give you more detail and list many search engines out today.

Step 13 - Maintenance - Periodically check for broken links, keep your information up to day, announce new promotional campaigns.  The hard part is done, but keeping the site current and up to date should be an on going project.

More resources for building your website:

Lisa Explains it All - An HTML help website for kids and beginners.  Great easy to understand website.

Thank you to:

Terence M Kierans, Cyberspace Virtual Services, for proofreading the document.

And for the Powerpoint template

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