This week, I’m very excited to introduce you to Taylor, military spouse, work-from-home mom, and a successful Virtual Assistant!
Taylor is a military wife and a stay at home mother of two beautiful girls. She worked in the corporate world as a Staff Accountant prior to her husband enlisting in the Air Force, but having and holding a corporate job became tricky quickly with Taylor’s husband in the military.
So with her entrepreneurial spirit, she decided to start her own business as a Virtual Assistant and work online.
Now, just a few months after taking Esther’s 90 Day VA course, Taylor has a thriving business and is completely booked out as a VA!
She has not only been able to exceed her financial and family-oriented dreams of being able to work from home and have more time with her kids, but she has also been able to save up for their future and fun family vacations.
In this case study, we’re going to learn all about how Taylor got started in her online work journey and launching her virtual assistant career. We’ll talk through all the things she’s doing online as a VA, who she’s working for and what types of tasks she’s currently doing.
Plus, Taylor shares some of her best tips for landing clients and how to juggle being a mom while working online.
Meet Taylor, a Work-at-Home Mom and Military Spouse
Before Taylor transitioned into the online work world, she was your ordinary stay-at-home mom. But like many other military spouses and stay-at-home moms, Taylor knew she had way more to offer and potential to offer outside of being a mom and a wife.
After she had her second child, Taylor contemplated going back to work as a staffing accountant. But with her husband in the air force, Taylor knew that she would soon be living a life on-the-go with her family and that it didn’t make sense to keep her local staffing accountant job.
After taking care of her two girls for about a year and a half as a stay at home mom, Taylor began doing her research into online work options. That is when she first “met” Esther and was introduced to the world of virtual assisting and working online.
Taylor loved Esther’s personality, related to the fact that Esther was also a fellow military spouse, and quickly decided to see if working online might be something that could work for her.
Fascinated by the flexible opportunity, Taylor dove in headfirst… and the rest is, as they say, history!
Why Do Military Spouses Struggle with Employment Options?
For those of you that may not be as familiar with having a spouse in the military or being a military spouse, there’s a lot more involved than what comes to mind when being in a military family.
The big question for many military spouses is employment opportunities when you’re constantly on-the-go.
“That is one thing I was super worried about. I was thinking that if I just tried and become a staff accountant again, I’m going to be in the workforce again.
But you know, what happens if my husband deploys… then I’m going to be the sole parent for both of my kids.
What happens when they’re sick? I have to not be able to go to work, you know?
And also we move a lot! I’m going to have so many different bullets on my resume that makes me look like a person that’s not a committed person and that’s not who I am.”
Another thing is the startup time between getting into a new routine at a new location. It’s called PCS (stands for Permanent Change of Station), and it means that you move about every 2 years, or if you’re lucky, it’s about every four years to a different base.
When you move once, it’s already hard to get a new job. It’s even more difficult when you know you have to do the same thing again in just a few months on top of having to move the entire family from city to city.
Taylor reveals that she finds the hunt for new jobs exhausting mostly because she hates interviewing for new jobs.
When she found out her husband was deployed, she knew she had to figure out another option for herself.
Why Virtual Assisting is a Great Option For Military Spouses
So, what did Taylor’s journey from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time virtual assistant look like?
Taylor says when she first began exploring her options, she looked into MyCAA, a program for military spouses that provides training, certificates or degrees.
Taylor specifically was looking to get certified in medical billing. She started the daunting process for that but was a little bit intimidated by how complicated the procedure was.
Not only that, Esther mentions that the certification process requires quite a bit of work and the options after that are either to start your own business or earn up to $15/hour. It was also often-times location-specific, so it presented another tricky dilemma for those that are on-the-go.
Even after getting a certification to do medical billing and coding, the highest paying offers are maxed out at $15/hour.
“That’s great for starting out, but what happens when I want to move up and I get better at the job? There were no tracks for getting promoted or anything.”
Taylor then began doing more digging.
First, she found options like Upwork, which she heard some not good things about and which we don’t recommend using either.
And lo and behold, she was introduced to 90 Day VA.
She spoke to her husband about it, and said,
“I think I could be really good at this, and I think I would actually like it because I can interact with others who like what I like.”
And soon after, she enrolled in the program.
How Did Taylor Book Her First Work-from-Home Client as a Virtual Assistant?
Taylor enrolled in 90 Day VA in mid-May and started going through the course content almost immediately.
Her husband thought she was sleeping in, but Taylor was busy watching all the course content online. She would stay up late and watch the course content just to ensure she could get all the skills-training cemented in her knowledge.
She finished about 70% of the course before she felt like she had some solid skills under her belt.
She began applying from there!
Taylor got a great kick start into applying for online gigs with the coincidentally good timing of our bi-annual Application Challenge in the VAI Members Club Facebook group (which comes as part of 90 Day VA).
She ended up sending out at least 10 applications a day, and that’s when she came across her first client. She had reached out to this client via the Contact Form on their website instead of emailing them.
Non-conventional pitching works! We love it.
The potential client replied back to her and asked: “What do you do and how can you help me?”
Taylor was overjoyed specifically because it was a client whose purpose she really loved and a blog that she had frequently visited. This client owned a food blog and Taylor came from a culinary background so it was right up her alley.
That was one month to the day from when she started 90 Day VA.
What Type of Clients Does Taylor Have & What Does She Do for Her Clients as a Virtual Assistant?
What does being a Virtual Assistant normally entail?
What types of tasks can someone ask you to do?
Taylor says it can be a whole range. Specifically, for this client, she is one of her ghostwriters. She does all of the “putting together” of the piece of content. The client sends her pictures of the food, directions, and ingredients for how to make the items and Taylor handles everything from that point forward.
Taylor makes the blog post come to life using the client’s voice and sends it to the client to review and upload.
Alongside this client, Taylor had also booked two other clients by September, making it a total of 3 clients in just a few short months of starting her journey.
Her other clients include a grief counselor who Taylor helps with technical tasks such as uploading and formatting blog posts to her website, uploading content to her social media platforms, set up her email subscriptions, and creating forms for her website.
“It’s simple tasks, but it’s something that she doesn’t know how to do and doesn’t have time to do. So I can help her with that.”
Much of being a Virtual Assistant is just about taking tasks OFF a client’s to-do list.
- It’s not about being an absolute expert.
- It’s not about knowing every single answer under the sun.
- It’s not about being someone with 10 years of experience in software.
It’s just about being able to do your research, problem solve and handle it for a client so they don’t have to worry about it.
What’s fantastic about this is that because this client loves Taylor so much, she’s possibly going to refer some other clients in her network to Taylor!
When you work online and you’re excellent at solving problems for clients, referrals are the easiest and fastest way you’ll get booked out. Before you know it, you’ll have to be referring clients to other VAs just because you don’t have the bandwidth… or you start an agency!
Everybody needs good help. So when business owners find good help, it spreads like wildfire.
Not only that, oftentimes, business owners don’t even realize that hiring a virtual assistant is an option and they are not aware of the HUGE range of tasks that a VA can actually help them with.
Once they realize that, they are dying to find an excellent VA to join their team.
How Do You Know If a Client is a Right Fit for YOU?
An important topic that we also wanted to touch on was the questions of:
Can YOU decide who to work with?
What if YOU don’t’ like a client?
Working as a VA is very different from traditional employment in that you get to pick exactly who you want to work for, what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it.
You are essentially a business owner. You get to decide.
Taylor admitted that in the past if a client hasn’t been a good fit, she has parted amicably with them. And the best part is: when this has happened in the past, parting with a client has actually led to new clients rather quickly.
So don’t feel like you have to take whatever you can get! If someone brings you more anxiety and stress, it may not be worth it. Make room for a better client to enter your life.
Taylor says it’s important to work with business owners that are ready to work with a VA. We agree.
If a business owner is not at a stage where they are ready or able to delegate to others, to trust you with handling small bits and pieces yourself, it may become an exhausting process for both of you.
It can set you both up for failure if someone is not ready to slowly let you into their business and to transfer small parts of ownership to you.
Some business owners may need some guidance on how to best work with you as a VA or need little small steps so they can begin to build that trust with you, so be patient.
But if it’s clear that a business owner is not ready, no matter your efforts and you trying to make it work, then it’s best to let it go.
What you’re looking for is a win-win situation where you are able to do your job and help someone and they are letting you help them.
Taylor’s recommendation? Build a trial period into the contract.
“90 Day VA actually provides you with a contract template that you can make changes to and alter, depending on what types of services you’re going to offer. So I put in a 30-day notice period into my contract, so if it’s not working for me, I can give her 30 days notice. If it’s not working for her, she can give me 30 days notice.”
A 30-day notice period allows BOTH parties to have enough time to either replace the VA or replace the client.
It allows for a bit of buffer time, and we highly recommend having a notice period in your contract, whether it’s 7 days, 14 days or 30 days.
Taylor says it was all okay in the end, and they parted amicably.
She adds: “It’s just so nice to be able to choose who I work with.”
And oftentimes, we have found in our experience that when you release something that’s not working for you, the universe just comes in and says, “Oh, good. You finally released it. Here’s the thing we really wanted to give you to replace that.”
Are Online Clients Long-Term Clients?
Now you may be wondering about the money side of things:
- Are these stable jobs?
- Are they one-off or long-term?
- How does payment work?
- How does Taylor charge her clients?
Taylor says that all her clients are long-term clients who pay her every single month.
They have to give her a month’s notice if they plan on letting her go. She gets prepaid for the month ahead so she does not begin work until payment has been received for the upcoming month. They pay in full upfront.
Taylor says when you work online, it’s all about building a relationship. Building a relationship goes both ways.
She highlights: “When you are providing quality work, clients don’t mind paying upfront.”
Taylor has received many compliments on the Application Kit that she has put together as a part of 90 Day VA to send to potential clients. This kit showcases her samples, her testimonials, her resume, and her work experience clearly.
This builds further proof for a client that you know what you’re doing and that you deliver quality work.
That builds the trust to pay upfront for your services.
Her Application Kit is a one-stop-shop for all things Taylor’s VA business, and the Application Kit is something that’s proprietary to the 90 Day VA program. We give you a template and examples for how to create everything you need to ensure you have things to apply to jobs with.
We hear it from business owners that hire our VAs all the time, too. Anything that you can offer a potential client that will make it more straightforward with them and less work for them is fantastic.
They want something that they can just look at and see at a glance if you’re a good fit to want to interview or not.
Boom. It’s all right there!
How Many Hours is Taylor Working Now as a VA?
Let’s talk specifics on the amount of hours and what it looks like for Taylor right now.
She mentions that she wanted to be working around 10 to 15 hours a week. Right now, she’s at around 8 hours a week, so she still has a few hours that she can fill up with client work.
But even with that, she’s comfortable with where she’s at. And not only that, she loves that she charges for package pricing versus hourly pricing.
If you’re curious about pricing or want to learn more about how pricing works when you work online, check out our in-depth article on that by clicking here.
Taylor says that because she’s working on a package basis, she doesn’t have to track her hours and it doesn’t matter how long it takes her to finish her work.
She gets on the phone with a potential client and first asks them what they’re looking for; once she determines the scope, then she figures out how much a package pricing would look like for this client in particular.
She almost always does custom package pricing, and this will normally be a monthly fee. She does not disclose how many hours it takes.
Does a Client Care About How Many Hours It Takes You To Complete a Project?
And you may be thinking, “But doesn’t a client care about how long or how many hours it takes you?”
In all of our experiences, the answer is: NO. A client doesn’t care how long it takes you.
Taylor says she always structures her work by deliverables, not by hours worked.
Deliverables such as:
- How many social media posts per month
- How many blog posts per month
- How many PR pitches per week will be sent out
And guess what? Clients prefer deliverables, too.
Because deliverables help them understand what they are going to receive. Plus, it helps them budget clearly for the month as they know exactly how much they’re going to be paying and exactly what they are going to get for that amount of money.
Hourly rates can be hugely variable depending on the type of service provided and the task at hand, so clients often prefer deliverables or package-based pricing as they know more certainly how much it will cost AND exactly what they get.
This is a huge advantage for you as a VA because when you start to get better at your job, you start to get faster, and when you start to get faster and better, you get paid the same amount for the task even if it only takes you half the time to do.
Taylor says she learned all this through the 90 Day VA program as well as the private community that we have with hundreds of girls doing the program. Learning from those that are more advanced in the group plus our mentors is huge for avoiding tons of beginner mistakes and ensuring you get started on the right foot.
The mindset shift of working for yourself and working online is a huge component of being successful in the online space. Learning that it’s not about the hours you work and that it’s more about the value and knowledge that you’re providing to someone.
What is a Typical Day in the Life of a Virtual Assistant Mom with Kids?
Another common question we get from our audience is how to juggle working from home when you have children… and if it’s even possible.
Hundreds of women in 90 Day VA are already doing it, so we know it’s absolutely possible.
Taylor says, personally, she likes to do her work in the evenings because she’s a night owl.
In the mornings, she brings her older daughter to school and her younger daughter stays at home with her. Sometimes, she’ll squeeze in a few tasks in the afternoon.
If she has a client call scheduled, she’ll let her daughter know: “Hey, mommy has a call. We have to be quiet,” or she’ll go into another room to take the call.
Taylor emphasizes that she’s very upfront about being a mom to her clients. Turns out, her clients don’t mind at all that she has kids and that she’s a stay-at-home mom. She’ll put her kids to bed and then start on her work, and the best part?
She can do all her work in her pajamas.
She also adds that clients don’t require you to be working from a specific time to a specific time. Her clients have all been incredibly flexible.
Her working arrangement has typically been, “Hey, can you give me the stuff at the beginning of the month and I’ll send it over to you once it’s ready?”
And her clients love that they know what to expect and when to expect it from Taylor.
Online business owners or general business owners don’t care that you have kids and don’t care that you do your work on your own schedule.
They just care that the work is done and that it’s done well.
“When you find someone that you gel well with, they’re not going to care as long as you’re doing what you’ve promised and you’re doing it well,” Taylor adds.
Originally, Taylor’s goal was to start making around $700 to $1,000 of additional income a month working around 10-15 hours a week.
3 months after 90 Day VA, she had already made it to over halfway to her goal while working less than 10 hours a week.
“I’ve just started out… so that’s even before I get to the type of pricing I can charge once I get more experience…
I don’t know if anyone else knows about the salaries in the military, but that’s about half of what my husband makes full-time.”
Some people write us emails or send us DMs on Instagram and insist that they need a full-time job.
To that, we always ask:
- Do you need a full-time job or do you just need to make like $2,000 a month?
- What if you could make $2,000 a month but work less than full-time?
- Do you really need to make that much money? If you don’t have to commute and you don’t have to pay for childcare, do you really need a full time $40K a year job anymore? Do you?
How Working as a Virtual Assistant Has Impacted Taylor
Another underrated aspect of working as a Virtual Assistant that I really wanted to touch upon is the part of building something that’s your own.
“I’m building something for me, and I’ve been growing as a person. I never knew I would be good at ghost writing or some of the technological website stuff. I would’ve never thought.
But with the information that was provided to me through the 90 Day VA course, I was able to bounce off of that and really actually turn it into something.”
She highlights how incredibly empowering it is to be able to say that she works from home and to have an ambition and purpose of her own.
“Before I even enrolled in the course, I had the option to have a staff accountant job for making $60,000 a year. And I had anxiety taking that because I’ve been with my kids for a while, but at the same time, I still wanted to keep developing me as a person and not, you know, stay at home 18 years while my children go off to school and now what do I do?
That was not appealing to me. And I’m a hard worker. I have my bachelor’s in accounting and staying at home is nice and it’s always something I’ve wanted to do, but I wanted, I still want to be me at the same time.”
So while we know that working online and making money while hanging out in your pajamas is very enticing, there is also a lot of empowerment that can come from feeling in control of your life and your career.
Developing and challenging yourself, putting yourself out of your comfort zone and growing as a person are all things that we all strive for, and it is definitely not something that anyone of us should have to sacrifice because of specific circumstances.
How Taylor Gained the Confidence to Pitch Potential Clients
One final topic that Taylor touched on was the growth in confidence when you work for yourself as a Virtual Assistant.
She found herself pitching people who had over a hundred thousand followers online; she became more and more comfortable on betting big on herself.
Taylor says how she has grown that confidence is mainly by realizing:
“The worst they can say is no, right? I didn’t have them as a client to begin with. So if they tell me no, it’s not like I’m out anything. It’s not defining me as a person.”
It’s very important to separate the rejection from who you are as a person. Rejections don’t define you, and they don’t say anything about who you are as a person.
Many times, rejections don’t even have anything to do with you; it could just because of bad timing or something out of your control.
And working with one client attracts another. With good feedback from your first client, your confidence grows. As you start getting those killer testimonials, you can move up in the types of clients you work with. So on and so forth.
And it’s, at the end of the day, just about taking baby steps.
The #1 Biggest Tip Taylor Has for Newbie Virtual Assistants
So finally: what is the biggest tip that Taylor would give to someone that’s starting out on their virtual assistant journey or might’ve hit some roadblocks in the beginning stages?
Taylor says, “Keep applying to jobs even if you’re not hearing back, and do what you can to stand out.”
Some of her tips for this include:
- Don’t just put “virtual assistant” in your email subject line. Use a memorable subject line, like “I’m the virtual assistant that you didn’t know you needed.”
- Make yourself stand out to where they want to click your email. Otherwise, you’re just another person that’s sending them the exact same thing.
- It helps you stand out by being more personable, not just using copy and paste templates. Instead, show that you’ve actually looked at their website. You took an interest in them and that obviously, you’re willing to work hard at what you’re doing, even by putting the time in before they hire you.
This is often counterintuitive because it’s not how we’re taught to apply to traditional jobs.
We’re taught to use these clear-cut professional templates and to be extremely formal. But the online world has other specifications.
The rules are different online, and Taylor says to embrace them! Get creative.
And finally, Taylor specifies that a mindset change can be very helpful especially when applying. Her mindset now is: “I’m not looking to be exactly what they want but better than what they want.”
We’re not looking to just meet at least 75% of your job requirements.
We’re looking to kill it not only just at what they listed, but even more than that. We want to kill it at what they listed and the stuff that they haven’t even thought that they could put on that list.
- Baby steps. It’s all about that progress. Just take one step at a time; the next steps will appear when the time is right.
- Cold pitch, cold pitch, cold pitch! The worst thing they can say is “no”, right?
- Find your purpose and be unapologetic about going after it. If you want to pursue something that you think will fulfill your life and bring you joy, don’t let anyone keep you from it. Life is too short!
- Get creative! Think outside the box; don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Have a little brainstorm session by yourself and come up with ways that you can truly stand out.
Thank you so, so much, Taylor, for all of your wisdom about being an amazing mom, the military spouse life and balancing an online career and some of the stuff that you do to stand out in a totally virtual world.
We are so proud of her and we are excited to see where Taylor’s path as a virtual assistant will carry her.
If you’re curious about Taylor’s life and want to follow along on her business journey, you can head over to her Instagram! If you’re curious about working with Taylor and hiring her, check out her Facebook page HERE.
If you’d like to join us in the work from anywhere revolution and get started as a Virtual Assistant, head on over to our free intro “How to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant” class that walks you through exactly how to get going ASAP.