Identifying Virtual Services You Can Offer
The what, how and why of providing your services to remote clients
Soloists who provide services in person may eventually find that traveling between customers or focusing on business in their immediate geographic area has its drawbacks. For instance, if you’re a calculus tutor who commutes to different students’ homes, you may eventually find that the travel time eats into your earnings and the physical limitations of providing in-person tutoring limits your business’ growth potential.
But technology like Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, iMessage, and G-Chat make it easier than ever to provide services virtually. That means you’re not spending your day traveling to different customers and you’re not limited to customers in your immediate geographic area. You could work with almost anyone anywhere in the world!
Here’s a look at different ways that Soloists can add virtual services to their business offerings.
Most knowledge-based services can be offered virtually, and the most personalized way to work virtually is one to one. For instance, the calculus tutor mentioned above could Skype with her tutoring clients and offer homework help remotely while her students are on spring break or for students who don’t live near her. If you’re a nutritionist, you could FaceTime with clients to discuss their eating habits and then email them a customized meal plan. If you’re an interior decorator, you could compile furniture suggestions in an email and create floor plans online using the dimensions of a client’s home even without setting foot in the space. Therapists, business coaches, educational consultants, and others can all benefit from seeing clients virtually or offering a hybrid of in person and virtual services.
Even if your skill requires more of a physical presence, you may be able to offer consultations via web video. For instance, a hair salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts offered 15-minute skype consultations so clients could discuss hair styles before physically visiting the salon. This approach can help build trust with prospective clients, but make sure you put a time limit on those consultations so you have time for paid work too.
Another approach is offering virtual services to a group instead of just one person. This can sometimes feel less personal, but you’d be able to scale up your earnings by collecting money from multiple clients at once. Plus, some clients may actually prefer a group setting and they may not mind if they get less personal attention, especially if it comes at a lower price point.
For instance, if you’re a pastry chef, you could offer a pastry course through an online platform such as Udemy or Craftsy. Instead of showing one person how to make an amazing chocolate éclair, you’d share your expertise with the whole group. Or if you’re a business coach, you could create an online mastermind group where clients would not only learn from you but also from each other. This could take place via Google Hangout, a private Facebook group, a private Slack channel, or whichever platform best serves the group’s needs.
Offering services in real time means you’re immediately able to answer clients’ questions or offer suggestions tailored to their situation. If you’re a guitar instructor, you could Skype with students anywhere in the world and correct their fingering and posture as needed. Or if you’re a golf instructor, you could watch a student’s swing and make corrections and adjustments right away.
When real-time service isn’t realistic or preferred, on-demand virtual services offer an alternative. For instance, the golf instructor could watch a video of his student in action and record his own video with suggestions for improvement that could then be shared with the student. That way the instructor can watch the video on their timeline and students can watch suggestions at their convenience.
Personal trainers could create a series of workout videos for clients that can be used in between training sessions or a tutor could produce web videos explaining specific math concepts. On-demand services are more flexible for both parties, because they’re not time specific. If you have a time period where you’re not able to provide services in real-time (maybe while you’re on maternity leave or recovering from an injury), on-demand services set up in advance could help replace some of that income.
Adding virtual services to your offerings could attract a whole new set of customers who can’t hire you in person. It could also offer another way for your existing clients to work with you. It may take creativity to figure out how your services could be adapted for the virtual world and some time to find the right mode of communication for your needs, but it’s worth exploring.