This week, I’m very excited to introduce you to Andie, a stay-at-home mom of 5 kids, a successful Virtual Assistant, and a 90 Day VA Star Student.
Before embarking on her online journey, Andie was a homeschooling mom for her FIVE children. Two of her kids have special needs, and she was given a stipend from the government to care for them. But it meant their dreams of being location independent and traveling as much as they wanted were stifled for a long time.
Today, things look a little different for Andie and their family of 7.
Here’s how Andie made the transition into working online as a Virtual Assistant while still remaining home with her children and her top tips for other aspiring online workers!
Meet Andie, the Stay-At-Home Mom
Andie’s background is actually in fine arts, and she’s a trained painter. In addition to that, she was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and even earned a small income from the state for her special needs’ kids care.
She knew having so many kids made having a traditional job impossible, “With 5 kids, there is no way I’d even make it to a job everyday. I would be so stressed out. There’s always somebody getting sick, I have to run to school to pick someone up or there’s a doctor appointment or something. Logistically, it was just impossible.”
Plus with the added factor of her children’s special needs and their love of travel, even a traditional part time job would never work.
Travel is how Andie reconnects with her family and feels like her “best self”.
With a lot of kids to feed and clothe, travel is also how they give their children gifts they’ll have long after the trip is gone: memories. “We value experiences over things,” Andie says, and travel is something the kids could always take with them more than just “stuff” that gets forgotten.
They have been to 12 countries with their kids in tow across Asia, Europe and Africa!
Can I really work online?
But Andie never really thought she could work online, she knew what a Virtual Assistant was but didn’t think it was an option for her, “I’m not really an organized or administrative person so I never really thought I could work online. I didn’t even know how to pursue being a virtual assistant… I just thought I needed to be a really organized person and really good at technology.”
And although some skills are important, what Andie really learned on her journey to success was, “it’s not about knowing it all. It’s about being willing to be trained, being able to be flexible, willing to grow, and to be willing to ask questions… there’s always going to be a learning curve.
But I have good character, I’m a trustworthy person and that’s what makes me a good VA and why they want to hire me. NOT because I have all of the perfect skills right now.”
How Andie Landed Her First Online Job
Believe it or not, Andie’s first and current client was her online personal trainer. She’d used her services as a trainer on and off over a few years, and after about 6 weeks into the 90 DAY VA program, she randomly mentioned on one of their normal calls, “Hey, I am doing a VA training. If you ever need a VA, let me know!”
She says the trick was that she really shared it in a more casual way, and naturally sharing like that with business owner friends creates zero pressure for either you or the business owner.
It’s more like “Haha, I like you, and it’d be fun to work together!” kind of a way vs too salesy. The trainer enthusiastically replied that she’d been looking to hire one, “That worked so well that I just started sharing more with others that I knew might need a Virtual Assistant.”
What does a Virtual Assistant do for her clients?
Andie’s tasks vary as they do with all new virtual assistants, “I do a lot of social media management for her, recycling posts so the content she works on is being used in multiple ways, set up her Linkedin account and do posts on there, I do her Twitter, manage her Facebook Group and sometimes do her Instagram.
I learned a lot about social media management through 90 DAY VA. I write her email newsletters, she gives me the main things and then I put it all together and add pictures. But the rest is really a big mixture, because as an entrepreneur, she just really needs things taken off her plate.”
Perhaps her favorite task on the list is of course, travel planning.
Andie had been to the countries in Europe her client wanted to go visit. So she was able to take her client’s ideas and budget, then plan out the entire trip from there, “It was SO FUN!”
Andie’s client also runs a separate health retreat business, and Andie hopes she will be able attend one of these travelling retreats in the future as part of her role.
More proof you do NOT need to be a “travel blogger” in order to get paid to travel or work in the travel industry! If you’re curious about working in the travel industry, feel free to check out this video where I chat with a travel influencer about how she hired her VA from our 90 Day VA program!
Besides skills, what are the best attributes of a successful virtual assistant?
You’ll never feel 100% ready before you jump in (whether you took a course or not!).
Andie suggests a new mindset, “Expect to always be learning. Never feel like you need to know it all to begin… or ever. There are so many resources.
I love having the confidence to say ‘Oh no, I don’t know that email software, but I will learn it’. As long as you are a person who is going to work hard and have good character, then that’s what you need to be a good virtual assistant.”
Everybody needs a VA; there is SO MUCH work out there, and that’s really encouraging. But there is also really something to just being a trustworthy person.
They just need somebody to trust their business with: that is the main thing!
Being trustworthy is essential because a business owner has to be able to trust you with access to all aspects of their business. It’s not always going to be about knowing how to do everything… it’s more so knowing that you are going to care for their business.
How Andie Priced Her Intro Hourly Rate & Gave Herself Raises
Andie initially came up with her hourly rate based on what I go over in the 90 Day VA program as industry standards, “Since she was my first client and I knew I didn’t want to stay at a super introductory rate, I set my rate at $20/hr to start but for the first 100 hours said I will just do $15/hr so I can learn things and it’s less pressure for both of us.
Now I am getting a new client at 5 hours a week and pricing it at $30/hr.“
So how did she make this jump?
“I realize now I need to up my rates according to how much we need to make and how much I can effectively work each week.
The work that I do, the energy it takes me and wanting to replace my part-time income… I don’t want to have to work 40 hours to replace a part-time income so I am adjusting my rates accordingly.“
The fact is that all my students realize the truth behind what I try to drill into them in the beginning, pricing is personal. What someone in Malaysia charges for the same virtual assistant work won’t be the same that someone in Argentina, in New Zealand, in South Africa charges.
The truth is: you have to start small and work your way up just like in a normal job.
BUT the trick is, you can give yourself raises MUCH faster than a traditional job. No waiting for a boss to notice your hard work, can opt out of playing office politics for a promotion or keep bouncing around jobs looking for that higher paycheck.
But how do you know the time is right to raise your rates?
Andie says she started raising her rates when she felt “like I had hundreds of hours of experience and could come in 100% knowing what was going on vs. totally fresh.“
How Much Does Andie Make Working Online Now?
Andie has almost completely matched her government-given part time income so her family can jump ship and become 100% location independent.
She expects to be exceeding what she made before by the time October comes around and she can take on more work once the kids are back in school. In fact, they’ve already moved out of her townhome and are embarking on their adventure this October!
She will be at 10 hours a week in September averaging $1,000/month and 35 hours a week in October averaging $3,000/month.
Andie and I are both Moms and agreed that one of the best parts of the virtual assistant lifestyle is being able to align how much you work with your family and travel needs.
Andie explains, “I could have hustled to get more work over the summer if I wanted; there’s tons of work, but I knew I wouldn’t want that while balancing my kids’ needs.”
Is this freelancing? Or a long-term online job?
In an online work culture of “side gigs” and “freelancing”, it can sound like virtual assistants are working on these random projects and their income is all over the place.
But actually, it’s quite the opposite.
Business owners need help, they need it regularly, and they don’t want to embed someone into their systems and build trust with a VA only to later have to start over again on the next project.
Andie gets it, “I am really involved in every aspect of her business.”
But how much work is REALLY even out there?
“Everybody needs a VA, there is SO MUCH work out there, and that’s really encouraging. But there is also really something to just being a trustworthy person. They just need somebody to trust their business with!”
Be that person for a business owner, and they’ll love and value you forever.
Designing a Life On Your Terms
Andie and her family have moved out of their townhome and into an AirBnB in Wisconsin for a few months before moving to Nova Scotia for a five month rent-free house/pet sitting gig!
Her husband has watched Andie and had his eyes opened into how remote work is possible.
Now he is transitioning to a fully remote job so they can continue their travels…
Key Takeaways from Andie’s Story
- Lesson #1: You don’t need fancy tech skills or to be hyper organized in order to be a VA. Just learn the top requested skills you enjoy to do and know there will always be a learning curve along the way!
- Lesson #2: Get skilled and then start telling any business owner friends and family that you are transitioning into a virtual assistant role; they need your help!
- Lesson #3: Start at a lower introductory rate but build in raises for yourself
- Lesson #4: When you are able to go into jobs 100% ready without a steep learning curve, you can then set your rates at what YOU personally need to thrive
I hope this case study reminds you, yet again, that you don’t need to have tons of admin or corporate experience, that you don’t need to have full-time availability, and that you don’t need to know how to do everything to start working successfully as a Virtual Assistant online.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom and want to work online like Andie, we invite you to join us in the online work revolution.
Because if we can all do it. Why not you, too?
If you’re curious, eager, or ready for a life of freedom and travel, our free intro class is the best place to start to learn all about how to work online as a Virtual Assistant making $20 – $40+/hr.
You can join the free intro class here!
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So excited to feature the amazing Andie in this blog post. Send her some love and support on her amazing online work and travel journey; you can find her and her amazing family on Instagram here.