The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to Onboarding Clients

Posted by:

Abbey Ashley

Today, we’re going to take a deep-dive look at your VA Onboarding Process.

What is an onboarding process? 

An onboarding process is the steps that you take after a new virtual assistant client is signed.

What will you send them? 

How will you get projects from them? 

How will the two of you get to know one another? 

That’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Close your eyes and imagine with me for a minute (I’m not sure how you’ll close your eyes and continue to read this, but just go with it…).

You are anxious.

You finally muster the courage to hit “send.”

This could be the start of everything – the big break you need to finally get your business off the ground.

All you need is this one client to take your business from the dreaming/planning stage to the “This is for real!” stage.

You have relentlessly researched your client and their industry, making sure every minute detail is discovered. You have the picture-perfect, authentic branding, showcased in a beautiful and put-together portfolio. Maybe you even have a website perfectly tailored to your ideal client.

When the email comes back telling you that the client is interested, you can hardly believe your eyes.

There are signs of life emanating from the other side of the screen. The joy, elation, and ALL THE HEART EYES last for a short while but are quickly replaced by eyes that look like a deer in the headlights….


“What do I do now!?”

When I landed my first client, I had JUST started working as a virtual assistant. To tell you the truth, I really had no idea what I was doing.

I didn’t have a contract in place. I didn’t know the questions to ask them. We just started working and decided to “figure it out along the way”.

Let’s avoid that. I guarantee you and your client will both appreciate having a smooth onboarding process as you begin your work together!


Take a look at this step-by-step guide to onboarding that will lead you through the very first interest in your services, all the way to signing the client as your very own.

The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to Onboarding Clients

Step #1: Schedule a Discovery Call

Once a potential client has shown interest in your services, it’s important to schedule a meeting with them. Ditch just emailing back and forth. Phone is good, face-to-face (like using Skype, Google Hangouts, orZoom) is best.

Your clients need to SEE you. They need to see and interact with the person that is going to be handling a part of their business.

I recommend setting up your meeting using an online scheduling tool like Calendly or Acuity Scheduling. These tools make scheduling calls a breeze!

You’ll just send over a link to your potential client to your calendar that contains a list of available appointments. They will then choose a date/time that works well for them.


Important: Make sure you keep your calendar updated when you add events elsewhere. You’ll want to make sure that your availability is always up to date, so you aren’t having to reschedule calls. 

Follow up with the client to confirm the date/time of the appointment – most schedulers do this automatically, but a personal follow-through is a nice touch.

Step #2: Prepare for the Discovery Call

In the hour leading up to the call, review the notes you have taken previously on the client’s business.

  • Look back through their website.
  • Glance through their social media posts.
  • Take notes of new content on their blog.
  • Write down questions that you can ask as you review their content.

This is where you want to get the feel for their business and help them envision your transition into the VA role on their team.

You’ll want to prepare a list of questions to ask during the discovery call. It’s GOOD to ask questions. Get them talking about their business. People love to talk about their business and they will love that you are genuinely interested in it.

Here are some questions to ask the client during your discovery call: 

    • How would you describe your business?
    • What made you start your business?
    • What is your ideal client?
    • Describe your ideal VA.
    • What are your expectations for a VA?
    • Do you prefer email or another way of communication?
  • How often do you want to touch base via video conference?

Remember, discovery calls are for YOU to discover if this client is a right fit for YOU and not the other way around! 

These questions will help you see the heart behind the business, what their working style is, and how much they have really prepared to have a virtual assistant join their team.

Step #3: Send Follow Up Notes

When the call is complete and you feel confident that you and your client will make a FANTASTIC team, send follow-up notes of the call (recap the conversation and any needed action items).

Here’s what your follow-up notes might look like:


Even if the client didn’t agree to become your client during the call, it is good to go ahead and send them your contract. Assume they are taking the next steps with you and make that process as easy as possible.

This email is also a great place to ask any last-minute questions that you may have forgotten to cover during the interview as well.

Step #4: Send the Contract

I recommend doing this along with your follow-up email, but you can use your judgment, based on the conversation that you had.

Let me stop and say that it is VITAL that you have a contract in place. Attorney Danielle Liss states that if there is ONE thing you do to protect yourself as a business owner, it’s to have a contract in place.

Click here to watch a full interview with Attorney Danielle Liss on getting your VA biz legal.

I recommend using a contract signing software like Dropbox Sign or Docusign to have your contract signed. This is an easy way to have your contract signed without having the new client have to print, sign, scan, and email you back the contract. 

Once your contract is received, make sure that you keep a copy in a special folder on your computer. I would recommend even printing out a physical copy. Your contract is important to keep on hand and to reference as needed.

If you don’t have a contract for your virtual assistant business, you’ll want to get one, pronto.

Check out the VA Toolbox offered here at The Virtual Savvy. You’ll get complete access to a new client contract, a subcontracting agreement, and a portfolio template. It’s all of the contracts and documents you need to successfully onboard your next virtual assistant client!


Step #5: Send the Invoice

It’s my recommendation to receive some kind of payment before you begin working. That could be partial payment, a deposit, or full payment.

When it comes time to send an invoice (based off of your specific contract terms) there’s a few tools you can use to make the process seamless.

If you are just starting out, I recommend Wave Apps. Wave is an invoicing system that is totally free. You can even send out recurring invoices and reminders.


Step #6: Set up your Onboarding Meeting and Ongoing Communication Procedures

Once you have the signed contract back and the invoice is paid for your very first package, now it is time to set up your onboarding meeting with your new client. 

This meeting is a one time meeting, usually lasting about 45 minutes, where you will go over all of the specifics of your working relationship with your new client.

During this meeting, you will discuss your working hours and procedures, set up how you will get work from your client, get the documents and passwords that you need to do your job successfully, and more.

Want to use our signature system for onboarding your new client? Check it out HERE

If your client is unwilling to meet with you every week, I recommend sending them an email every Sunday or Monday that will list out the tasks that you’ll be working on for them over the week.

Don’t be scared to over-communicate.

It’s not a comforting feeling as a client to dish over money to an almost stranger, and then never receive any updates or reports on how the projects are being handled.

Be proactive and communicate regularly with your client about your current projects.

Organization is key.

As you begin signing new clients, you’ll want to have a seamless process for getting to know them and communicating the way that you will work together.

Remember, you are the boss. They are hiring you as a specialist, so it’s ok to communicate how you work with your client. Their paying you to be the expert, so act like it!

Much of that comes with being confident in your processes. When you have a step-by-step onboarding process in place, you’ll be able to portray confidence as you start your working relationship together.

Want to get super-organized in your onboarding? We’ve created a special Onboarding Trello Board and Training just for you! 


Meet Abbey

Abbey Ashley is the Founder of The Virtual Savvy. She helps aspiring virtual assistants launch and grow their own at-home business from scratch. She's since gone on to grow a multi-six figure business and retire her husband ALL from her at-home business. It's now her passion to help others start their own VA business so they can taste the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship as well.


This free one-hour training combines thousands of hours of research, years of experience in growing a virtual assistant business!

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  1. Caroline Gick on February 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    This couldn’t have come at a better time…..I just scheduled my very first discovery call for this coming Monday!!! (ps – after just getting my new Savvy Site website up last weekend :-)). Thank you so much for all this amazing information and guidance.

    • Abbey Ashley on February 27, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Congrats! You are welcome and I can’t wait to see how well things go for you.

  2. Naomi on February 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    WOW!!! This is so much value!! Great job!

    • Abbey Ashley on February 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Thank you, Naomi! I am happy to hear you’re receiving value from my posts.

  3. Erica Praga on February 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I am just starting and I have my first “official” client. I had originally traded some hours of work in exchange for testimonials, but now she would like to continue! I am working to set up all the pieces of my workflow. Your website and emails have been a big help! I am using the steps here, and piecing together the contracts, invoices and welcome emails. Nerve-wracking!

    • Abbey Ashley on February 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

      You’ve got this girl! Congrats on your first official client! I hope this helps.

  4. Michelle Doyle on February 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    This is excellent. I really need to get my finger out. I am doing VA work with one client but it is no where near as formal as it should be. I’ll get to it. Thank you. Am looking forward to the session this afternoon.

    • Abbey Ashley on March 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      That’s awesome to hear! Glad this was helpful! 🙂

  5. Evah, From Kenya on April 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Hey Abbey,
    In the recent past, your counsel has been invaluable – to say the least!
    I read this yesterday, as I scheduled for a new client interview today. I used your advice, especially the part about getting to know the client and I am looking forward to working with this particular client. If not, I am happy I learnt something new, and went ahead to use it!! Thanks a million girl!

    • Abbey Ashley on April 19, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      That is awesome Evah! I am so glad that it was helpful!

      How did the call go?!

  6. Maria on May 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you, Abbey, for this excellent information! I am just at the beginning and, therefore, your article is very helpful! 🙂

  7. Shaki on July 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Gosh Abbey, this is awesome! Such detailed info! Thank you!

  8. Brenna Barry on October 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    This post made me literally LOL multiple times! Not only that, it’s FULL of helpful info! You rock!

    • Abbey Ashley on October 24, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Aww that’s wonderful to hear–thank you! 😀

  9. Nana Ama Kyeremeh on November 14, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    You are amazing!!! This was extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • Abbey Ashley on November 22, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      No problem!! So glad you found it helpful! <3

  10. ashley on September 24, 2018 at 1:47 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m just starting out in VA work and this is so helpful!

    • Abbey Ashley on September 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      I’m happy to hear that, Ashley! <3

  11. Ivy on May 6, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I just wished I thought of this years ago. I started as a VA without the formalities. It just sucks sometimes when I didn’t know what to do next. This really gives me the direction I need. I feel like this made my day today.

    Thank you!

    • Abbey Ashley on May 7, 2019 at 11:01 am

      I am excited for you as you continue your VA journey!

  12. Jill on September 8, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Excellent info. I am just getting started pulling everything togetger to try and land a client.

    • Abbey Ashley on September 9, 2019 at 10:49 am

      YAY!! So excited for you to get your business established. Remember, you don’t have to have everything perfect before you get clients, and once you do you will most definitely make adjustments. GO! Set! Ready!

  13. Ola on December 19, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    This blog is educative and mind-opening,

    Thanks for efforts

  14. Danielle LeBaron on June 26, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    I have been a VA for seven years and now offer VA Mentoring. This is an AMAZING outline and resource that I send to my clients to help them with their onboarding client fears. Thank you for a great resource!

    • Jaime Nickerson on June 27, 2023 at 9:02 am

      You’re welcome, Danielle! – Team TVS

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