Starting something new is always a challenge and a test to your confidence levels, especially if it’s a totally different career path or your first time looking for remote work. Breaking into the world as a virtual assistant can seem super overwhelming and you might feel like your to-do list is never ending with things you need to get “perfect” before you’re ready to start landing clients. Fear not, VA friends. We’ve been there before, too! We’ve accumulated a VA beginner pep talk for you and the 5 things all new VA’s need to hear TODAY:
1 . Start Before You Feel Ready
It’s simple – you’re never going to feel ready to start. Don’t get hung up on perfection. You don’t need to have a perfect website launched, a cute logo, a Facebook Business page and tons of packages/contracts/proposals already created. Yes, you’re probably going to need to update your resume and create a portfolio but the rest of it can be a work in progress. Most importantly, you just have to START so you can continue learning and get some experience!
2. Own Your You-nique-ness
Remember that you have an accumulation of years of experience, skills and stories that are 100% different from EVERYBODY ELSE. What makes you, YOU, doesn’t make me, ME. What a client is going to LOVE you for, is YOU. Be proud to show off your personality, skills and strengths, this is what gets you noticed and lands you the gig! Trust that your ideal client is looking for their ideal VA – you!
- Forget about the Competition
First off, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to anyone but especially not your competition. How far are you going to get if you keep telling yourself, “There’s probably somebody out there that’s more qualified for this than me. I better not apply.” Did your competition tell themselves this when they applied for the gig they landed? NO. They owned their you-nique-ness whether they were the most qualified person or not and proved why they were the best fit for the gig. Quit comparing yourself to others and instead work on how you’re going to stand out from the crowd.
- Value Yourself
Remember when your Mama told you “If you don’t love yourself first, no one else can love you.” Let’s take that mindset and apply it to being a new VA. RESPECT YOURSELF. Know your worth. Know that you have SO many skills and you’re providing really valuable services to your clients. Take yourself seriously so that other people can take you seriously. Imagine that you and your “competition” are both new VA’s with the same level of experience. One of you is charging $3 an hour for their services and another is charging $15 an hour. Which one would you take more seriously? Probably the one who charges $15 an hour because that nonverbally says, “I’m confident in my worth and what I can provide for you.”
- Keep Going
So what, you got rejected from a a few clients or positions you applied for. Don’t get hung up on this and don’t you dare quit. There’s a reason it didn’t work out with these clients and TRUST that a better opportunity is coming your way. Always keep moving forward, working hard to learn new skills, get experience and build your portfolio. Everyone has to start somewhere but you gotta keep going!
Now go stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are. YOU GOT THIS. Get out and get on with it, your clients are waiting for you! Comment below and tell us what you do when you’re struggling to feel confident in yourself as a VA. For more support be sure you’re a member of our FREE FACEBOOK GROUP where we virtual cheerlead each other to success every single day.
We get asked this question ALL the time. So we decided to tackle it head on with Taylor, the founder of Remote Like Me (she a total girlboss). In case you didn’t know, Taylor helps ladies from all over the world go remote like her! She is a powerhouse of great information about how you can stand out amongst the competition and that is why Esther and Taylor got together to do an extra special Facebook Live where they answered everyone’s questions!
If you missed the Facebook Live, it’s never too late to watch the recording. Or just check out the highlights here!
So how can you stand out from the competition when you are applying for remote jobs?
The tricky thing about online jobs is that you don’t get the opportunity to WOW people in person. A lot of times, when applying for jobs before I went remote, I would just hope that people loved my personality and worried more about me as a person, vs. my resume. That almost ALWAYS worked for me. I would take in my resume in person, be super charming and even set up and interview right then. Then I would go home, prepare for the interview and totally land the job. However, online jobs, you don’t get that chance to wow them with your great personality and people skills. And just starting out… my resume said a lot of “Worked as a Nursing Assistant”. How was that going to help me? Like you, I had a lot of questions for Taylor and Esther.
Enough about me – here I am going to share with you a few of the valuable tips. If you want to know even more, just check out the facebook live!
The first thing that you should always always do is follow the employer’s directions. The reason that people will list a job with several steps to apply is that they are tired of weeding through thousands of applications and this is a way for them to say, alright, no to all of you who can’t follow directions. Don’t be one of those people. Just follow directions. That’s the best way that you can show someone that you would be a great employee!
The next thing that you should do when you are applying for an online job is to make sure that you are reading the job description and then creating a custom resume for each job. This is going to show that you aren’t just mass sending your resume to every job out there. This shows that you are taking the time to apply for jobs that you really want and think that you would be good at!
Lastly, you need to make sure that you are organizing and keeping track of all the jobs that you apply to. This is really important so you know what you sent to people, when you applied, if you heard back, what they want from you. Nothing is worse than not getting a job because you were unorganized. It happens, believe me. So start now, with ORGANIZATION in mind. Get in that google drive of yours and create the folders, spreadsheets and docs that you are going to need to stay organized and kick ass at remote work!
We believe in you, we know you can do it and if you want even more help and support, make sure that you join our Facebook Group where we send out virtual hugs and support to everyone on their work from home journey! (We also post tons of LEGIT work from home opportunities…)
To help you rock your remote resume, one of our 90 Day VA program participants and intern, Evina, made this awesome infographic for you based on everything we went over! Pin now so you can refer to it when you get to work on creating a resume that can’t be ignored!
Pin this for later inspiration!
We get asked this question all the time! How much money can you actually make when you are working from home? The reason so many people want to ask us this question is because you often see jobs posted online for around $2 an hour. The reason that people are paying so low for these jobs is generally that they need help but have no budget and the people who do these jobs are generally those living in developing countries. This is not what we do.
What can you expect to make online?
We start by breaking this down into different categories because of course, not everyone is going to make the same amount of money. There are a lot of factors that go into how much money you can charge and in turn how much you are going to make.
We call you beginners because you might just be starting out in the Virtual Industry. Everyone has to start somewhere. When you are starting out you might find yourself doing a wide variety of tasks. That’s OK. This is the best way for you to figure out what you are good at and what you want to do long term. This is also the best way to build your portfolio.
These are basic admin tasks and you are going to find that a good rate to charge for these things is around $7-15 an hour.
Intermediate is when you may have been working in the Industry for 1-5 years. You know what you are good at and you have a well-built portfolio really showing clients what you can do. Make sure that you have an awesome resume and professional social media accounts. Around this time you can start charging people $15-25 an hour.
We call the next section mastery because this is when you really niche down and start doing what you are really good at! During this time you are going to be making anywhere from $30-60 an hour. The more mastery you are, however, the more you are going to make. This is for people who have educated themselves further in what they want to do. They have done the coding boot camp, gotten the teaching certificate or anything like that to really make themselves an expert.
Once you are an expert you can start charging $100-200 an hour and be outsourcing most of your work to an amazing team that you have built up to help you get to this point.
What can you do now to start generating an income online?
PASSIVE INCOME! If you haven’t heard this term before, then let me explain it to you. Passive income means you are making money by doing nothing. They say it’s making money in your sleep. However, it takes time and often money to set up, but if you do it right, it can be all automated.
The other thing that I recommend that you do is NEVER say no to work. The reason being, you should ALWAYS outsource. Instead of saying no to anything (unless it’s out of your field) you should say yes and then outsource to someone else. Build up a team around you so that you can have time off, work less and earn more!
Now, this is just a snippet of the information that we gave you in the video on our Facebook! To get all the rest of the information you can get in the group! See you there!!
Traveling with kids is hard enough, try adding in full-time online work as well as school, accommodation and balancing activities into the mix? Here I am answering some of my most asked questions about how I do it with my 7-year-old son and full-time life on the road!
How about school?
The world is his classroom! We get to discover different things that are exciting and educational and it forces me to get up, move my butt, and get out of the house. As for curriculum, it’s actually really amazing how they now have completely online school for children as little as kindergarten and preschool! Eventually, I’ll enroll him in school somewhere so he gets the chance to make friends all over the world. It’s not impossible to travel with kids, in fact, it’s fun and really amazing and he has a great life. Traveling with him proves to him that he can go and do fun stuff and have an awesome life and allows him to realize that there’s no wrong way to do things.
How do you balance your schedules?
Well in the beginning when I wasn’t making a ton of money I had to work my schedule around when he was sleeping or could chill and watch TV. I couldn’t take meetings while he was awake but at least I could get some stuff done. When we had we caught up on bills more, I could enroll him in preschool or daycare which I was able to afford – that opened me up to be able to do more work. You have to look at childcare as a business expense.
Do you have any helpful hints for other parents?
Teach your kids that certain things (headphones in, door shut, etc) mean you are not to be disturbed, and if there’s a chance your kid might not follow those rules, give your client a heads up that this is an odd time for us to meet so he might poke in, sorry. If all else fails, use my secret weapon – the TV or the iPad. I save them for emergencies like last-minute meetings or anything important. Previously I’d have either on in the background – stop that! If they have to ask for it or are only given it on special occasions, it becomes a treat and it will hold their attention.
What are you supposed to do with all your belongings?
I started by putting everything that was precious to me and everything that was going to be very expensive to replace in a tiny storage unit. After that, you stop being attached to so many things and just get rid of stuff. We have our lives in suitcases!
How are you supposed to manage expenses?
I suggest looking at the work that you’re doing and the income that you are making and then calculate your basic expenses. You don’t have rent, internet, electrical, or your car to pay for anymore. You can do house-sitting, stay with family, Airbnb or VRBO, etc. Keep in mind that long-term rentals sometimes give discounts based on the length of your stay!
Travel with your kids and your job is all about balance! If you have any other questions, make sure to send them my way! I will be answering all questions in this series.
It’s no secret I am not a fan of Paypal. I’ve used them extensively for the last 4 years during my business and begrudgingly offer it as a payment option for our Virtual Assistant Internship programs as well. Here are my issues with Paypal so you can make a decision to use them in your business or not and scroll down to the solution I suggest that’s been working well for me below…
If you have clients pay you via Paypal:
1) It’s not particularly professional to send them an invoice from Paypal or request they pay you from Venmo or something to avoid fees…you are a real business, you need to look like $100/hr and not $10/hr if you want to be charging that. Your invoicing and payment acceptance needs to rival someone demanding $100/hr if you want to also demand just as much, right? Would someone charging $100/hr stick a little note on the bottom of their Paypal invoice “Please use the ‘sending money to friends and family’ option or Venmo to my email to avoid fees, thanks” NOPE. And neither should you.
2) Paypal wants you to use them and their shiz. So the money a client pays takes DAYS to hit them…then you have to manually login and push it to your bank account which takes another 3-5 BUSINESS days. That means I have to just REMEMBER to login to Paypal to push the money to my account, THEN it takes another week to hit my account??? Do you know how much this messes up my bills getting paid every month? “Oh I am getting paid this week, woohoo!” TWO WEEKS LATER because a client paid a few days later, it took 4 business days from there, and the weekends and holidays don’t count as business days. I’ve legit been broke before and logged into my Papal and had $1000+ sitting there. I have no access to it because now I have to push it to my bank account and it’s a Thursday so I won’t see it until earliest: Tuesday. IS THIS REAL LIFE? And NO I do not want a Paypal card, thank you very much. I want my money.
3) You are going to have to pay fees unless its a bank to bank wire transfer, that’s just how it goes. Whether you use Paypal or integrate with a credit card acceptance site (e.g. Stripe). Fees are part of running a business. So incorporate those into your hourly rates or packages and let it go. Stop asking clients to go some weird way to pay you so you can avoid a little charge. They have a ton of invoices to pay every month, you want your money quickly right? Then make it easy for them.
So what the heck should you do?
You need a proper invoicing & payment acceptance system. Seamless, low or zero fees you have to eat and goes directly into your account QUICKLY without you having to manually do stupid crap to move it along.
There are a few tools I think that offer this, but our favorite and the one I’ve used from the very beginning is Freshbooks. I truly believe it’s the best out there and here’s why:
You can set it up easily through them to not only track your hours but then pop those right into an invoice and send it to a client. Then the client can pay via the payment methods YOU choose. You set up and then select right from the invoice which payment methods you want to offer a client, once they pay it goes directly into your account.
They have 3 options, Paypal, Stripe, or Freshbooks Payments which is through WePay and offers bank transfer (no fees!) or credit card (lower fees!).
Here’s how I have mine setup:
I do not allow for Stripe anymore because the fees were more per transaction vs. just going through Freshbooks Payments. Plus Stripe took longer to hit my account. Freshbooks payments take about 2 days to hit my account. You heard that right. That’s RECORD time in online payment processing.
I do not allow for Paypal payments now either unless a client directly requests it due to the delay and manually pushing I despise. But if a client requests it and you go through Freshbooks Paypal they offer a special program where you can set up your business so it’s only 0.50 per invoice paid from a client. YOU READ THAT RIGHT. There is no percentage, just 0.50 cents. You can ONLY get the 0.50 deal through specific applications like Freshbooks. Paypal does not offer it directly.
The best part is Freshbooks is it’s free ya’ll. I got it for you for freesies for 30 days HERE with no credit card required and I honestly used this for the first year or so of my VA business. Then once I had more clients I upleveled to their whopping $10/month plan. You save the $10 in fees alone!!! It’s SO WORTH IT!!! The $10/month level also connects to your business bank account so it can track all expenses right there in the app. And their customer service is incredible when you call an actual person in Canada picks up and helps you right then.
So stop being a slave to Paypal or other weird and unprofessional payment methods, there is no reason for it. Freshbooks is an incredible tool and the 0.50 per Paypal transaction will cover your $10/mo fee alone.
Another emerging way to accept payments from your clients is through a program called Transferwise. It is extremely easy and fast. All your clients need to send you money is your email address and you can easily transfer the money straight into your bank account through your email as well. If you are paying people it’s a great option as well. The fees are tiny compared to what you are going to pay through other methods. Transferwise is great as well if you are paying in a different currency than the person is recieving. It shows you right away what the conversion is and how much money you are going to get. You really can’t go wrong accepting or sending payments through Transferwise.
If you sign up for Transferwise here, you can get a free 500 POUNDS when you make your first transfer. Yes you heard that right! A free 500 pounds. Just sign up here!
Pin for your fellow freelancers!
One of the toughest skills to master when you launch your career working from home is how to balance your business with having kids and a family. Take it from me – it can be you done!
The first thing I highly recommend is that you set business hours. It’s going to be really important for your sanity and also for your family – it can be before your kids wake up, or in the evening when your husband gets home, whatever hours make sense. Having family time is just as important, so at some point you’re going to want to start to block out family time otherwise you’ll probably turn into workaholic, which is going to infringe on that stuff and we don’t want that to happen.
My next point to keep in mind is the fact that there’s this big misconception out there that you can work from home and not have childcare. Childcare should be a business expense that you should prepare for if you’re working from home! Block out consistent work times so you always have availability to accept meetings or at least to get some solid work done. Once you set business hours you’re going to start to recognize the times when you need childcare.
Sometimes you might be able to send them to church child care or swap with another mom so that she has your kids two days a week and you have them the other two days, or even hire a girl who isn’t quite old enough to babysit on her own yet but could act as a mother’s helper. She will keep the kids busy and quiet while you’re trying to get some stuff done. Make sure you’re focusing on what you can do, not the roadblocks in the way!
This final recommendation is the most important: you need to determine what success means to you! Take whatever fuels your fire and focus on making that a reality. You have to decide what it is for you and then you need to put it into action to make it happen!
Last thing I have for you is a free eBook about how to work from home without selling anything. If you’re interested in how to be a virtual assistant or how to get started doing work from home then grab the eBook HERE