Thanks so much for everybody's replies! I have tried the freelance sites online and had a bit of luck yesterday with that but like you said the competition is fierce and the pay can be quite low. I understand that many people do not need a VA to know much about their business but I would prefer to work for someone who wants an ongoing relationship rather than a few one off tasks, if you know what I mean. I think I will try and contact businesses locally as well as posting on the sites you have suggested. As you said notyou I think a lot of people who need a VA wouldn't really know about the sites available so hopefully I'll find someone who needs my services.
Definitely a big area. I've just hired a VA on Odesk for instance. Be aware, if signing up for Odesk or PPH that the competition is fierce and if you want to charge a respectable amount your presentation has to be flawless.
Mind you, most people who need the services you are offering don't even KNOW about Odesk.
I see what you're saying about getting to know a business instead of being an anonymous, dispassionate assistant, and there is a lot to be said for making yourself indispensable. I imagine that if there were areas in which you were in a position to give money saving advice, so that you could sell yourself as saving the company more money than they are actually paying you? For example, if you are a shipping guru, you could introduce them to shipping or courier providers who can cut their annual shipping spend.
Position yourself as seriously professional - the Claire Underwood of VA's, none of this "girl Friday" nonsense.
I have recently decided to become a virtual assistant providing administrative support to other businesses. There are various types of business I would like to target such as established businesses, those in my local area and also business start ups. I am aware that when starting up money is often very limited but it is more cost effective to hire me as well as the fact there is no need to have a physical premises as I can work from home. I have a website but there is a lot of competition on the internet as there are quite few companies offering virtual assistance. I would like to differentiate myself from these companies by offering a more personalised service though where I get to know businesses.
I just wanted to see if there were people that would use this kind of service and whether anyone had any ideas how I could market myself and find clients.