Is it OK to use a freelancer website?

Freelance Site: Upwork

When you decide you want to get started freelancing, you suddenly find there are sources online just for freelancers! It can become overwhelming with all of the options.

So I’m going to answer the question:  is it OK to use a freelancer website?

Yes.

But please keep reading because, TLDR: you can get started on a freelancer site, but don’t hang out there forever!

In this article, I’m specifically going to talk about Upwork. I’ll even give you my experience with it!

About Upwork

Back in 2018, I wrote a review of Upwork for Full Time Job From Home. Even then, I already had experience getting jobs through the platform.

Upwork is a place where people (AKA businesses or entrepreneurs) can post jobs that they need to outsource. And you (the freelancer) can bid on the jobs that you think you’re qualified for. Pretty simple.

How to be successful on Upwork

From my experience, the way you will find the most success on Upwork is to fill out your profile. Make sure it’s 100% complete. This will help you stand out against the competition.

Back when I was a bigger user ( I haven’t had to log in for quite some time, but I’ll get into that in a bit) I was able to take tests to help demonstrate my abilities. The tests could be focused on English grammar, etc.

I looked around and only found 1 test for myself at this time. I found it under the heading Find Work. It’s called an Upwork Readiness Test which I am able to take.

“The Upwork Readiness Test has 10 questions. It covers the best practices and safety tips that top freelancers use to build successful businesses on Upwork.” It continues on to say that each question has a 2-minute time limit. And they give you links to study up!

My Upwork Readiness Test Score

Oops! I scored a 3.5 out of 5… and failed! 😳😥

Definitely read up using the links they provide! I wanted to speed through the test to see what it was about. Thankfully, it says you can retake it at any time. Phew!

When do I use Upwork?

I’ve been a virtual assistant for over 5 years. I have clients and I have other lead sources for jobs. (You have to check out the Horkey Handbook mini-course!) But once in a while, I like to see what kind of jobs people are posting on Upwork.

Clients come and go. In the past, as clients have left, I have logged into Upwork and started bidding on new jobs immediately.

I think that’s the beauty of a freelancing site like Upwork. If you feel like you need more money – get online and bid on some jobs!

How Upwork works

When you sign up (for free) you receive what they call connect credits. The connect credits allow you to connect with the owner of potential jobs. You get a certain number of connect credits per month, so there’s no reason to hoard them. When they run out, you can buy more.

DON’T BUY THEM!

Just bid on jobs that you want. And when the month rolls over you can get more credits.

Why I say don’t hang out there

I say don’t hang out there because you’ll be competing against some people who will low-ball the jobs to get them. On the other hand, not all jobs want the cheapest labor! Some people need a certain skill that they don’t have and they’re willing to pay more for someone to do a better-than-good job.

Also, Upwork takes a portion of your earnings. Twenty percent, to be exact. So if you bid $40, they’ll take 20% which is $8, and you’ll receive the balance, or $32.

The nice thing is, you can play with the number to get it where you want it. I adjusted the field for the amount I’ll receive after fees, to make sure I’m getting my rate, and it adjusted the hourly rate I will propose to the client so that I can receive my rate after the fees are taken out.

Interestingly, I was able to submit a proposal even though I just failed the readiness test! 🤷‍♀️

My experience with Upwork

I have gotten at least 2 good jobs through Upwork plus other small jobs. One of them I’m still working with! After our contract ended, she contacted me to work on a different project for her and I’m still working with her!

Another client I’m still in contact with and we’re actually connected on Facebook! Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty good experience with it. But as I said, I put the time in, completed my profile, and took the tests they offered.

What to do next

If you haven’t started your virtual assistant business yet, there are a couple of ways to get started.

  1. If you’ve got $19 burning a hole in your pocket, you can take a mini-course from Horkey Handbook and find out if being a VA is something you really want to do.
  2. If you want to dive right in (this is you if you already KNOW you want to be a VA) you can enroll in Horkey Handbook’s FullyBookedVA system. It’s basically full access to all of their courses for as long as you want to stay enrolled.
  3. Or, you can take my FREE eCourse! You’ll receive 5 emails that will walk you through starting your VA business and you can literally start your business this week!

So is it OK to use a freelancer website? Have you tried Upwork? Are you ready to start your VA business? What questions do you have? I’m here to help!

Should I niche down

Niching Down

Should you niche down? Yes, for sure! But what does it even mean?

In this article, I’ll tell you what it means to niche down and why you want to do it as a freelancer. I’ll come back in another post to talk about how to do it.

Let’s get right to it!

What is a niche?

A niche is a small, targeted area of a product or service.

If you were to use doctors as an example, a general practitioner is someone who serves many people. But a cardiac specialist is someone who focuses on and serves a much smaller, more focused subset of people.

Why would you want to niche down?

To say you are a “Freelancer” or “Virtual Assistant” could mean any number of things. Like seriously, hundreds! No, thousands!

But if you say that you’re a “Customer Experience Expert”, that shows a narrowed focus as to what kind of service you provide. That’s your niche – customer service!

In this article, I talk about what you should (or shouldn’t) call yourself. Finding your niche isn’t exactly the same as finding a better name to call yourself. But if you’re thinking along the same lines, you’re going to find your niche.

When you niche down, you are no longer a general virtual assistant. You have a narrowed focus, and your expertise in a subject matter increases. And so do the rates you can command!

By narrowing your focus, it helps you find better clients, because you’re looking for people who specifically want the thing that you do. And it will also help them find you!

This is an awesome article that I read on the topic of niching down. Brennan Dunn actually reviews a book he read, written by Philip Morgan. He goes into further details about the benefits of choosing a niche.

How do you find your niche?

This deserves a whole blog post. But just to get you started, think about what you like to do.

Let’s use customer service as our example again. Any business with customers needs customer service. But, is there a specific industry you want to serve?

I, for example, have a background in manufacturing, so I would enjoy servicing manufacturers or builders. If you have experience in the medical field, that might be your niche.

So you’re thinking: what do I like to do, and who do I want to do it for?

Now you do it!

Most important resources for a new virtual assistant

Free resources for a new virtual assistant

Are you a new virtual assistant? Maybe you’re a virtual assistant wannabee? Good! You’re in the right place! I’ve been a virtual assistant for close to 6 years! I’ve tried many-a-tools over the years and I’m going to share my list of most important resources for a new virtual assistant!

Thankfully, there are sooooo many apps out there that are free! I have chosen to pay for a few along the way, but you don’t need to do that getting started.

How do you even begin to figure out what you need?

You’re going to figure out what you need as you go. You’ll start to work on something, you’ll Google it, and you’ll find new potential resources. Maybe that’s even how you found this article!

You’ll figure out what you need, literally based on your needs! If you’re trying to design an image for a Facebook post, you’ll Google something like this: best free image creation apps.

What’s first on the list? Canva. YESSSSSS!!!! I 100% agree! If you haven’t tried Canva, you have to! I used the free version for years. I enjoy the perks of using the paid version, but I promise you’ll be happy with the free version of Canva!

Most important resources for a new virtual assistant

Canva aside, my two favorite resources are Trello and Clockify. Let me tell you about them…

Trello

Trello is an amazing free app that you can use to keep track of your projects and your clients. I have this app open all day long and skip around to whatever I’m working on.

It’s broken down into Boards, Lists, and Cards.

A Board would be your client. Inside each board, you have lists. My lists are titled Credentials, Daily to-do, Ongoing tasks, Brainstorming, etc. Then for each list, you can add multiple cards to fill out the list. Within a card, you can add links to anything with a URL, you can add attachments, and you can chat with people who you’ve added to the board.

Trello also has a mobile app (I’m on android but I’m sure iPhones have it as well). It’s very handy to be able to look things up on the go!

Clockify

A way to track your hours is a must! I used a time clock app on my phone for the first 5+ years of my business!

A couple of years ago, a client suggested I start using Clockify. I looked at it, but I was so used to my time clock app that I couldn’t get into it.

I kept on using the app on my phone until just recently. I was having an issue with the app and my go-to solution when I have a problem with my phone is to uninstall the app and reinstall it.

I don’t recommend doing that!!🤦‍♀️

When I went to re-install it, the app was gone!! I understand that’s probably why I was having an issue, but, I was still quite disappointed that I lost my favorite app!

I tried several other time tracking apps that day, all on my phone. None of them were worthy!

Queue the solution! Clockify!

What I love about Clockify

What I love about Clockify is that it’s a Chrome extension. So I don’t even have to log into the site to start using it! But don’t worry, if you don’t like extensions, you can use the website.

I spend a lot of time on business activities that aren’t billable. Sometimes at the end of the day, I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done. That can be a very crushing, defeating feeling.

But I have this handy timeclock that I can click on and keep track of EVERYTHING! I set myself up as a client and I now know where my time goes. It might not be billable time, but I’m still being productive and it’s important to see that!

I hope you discovered something new and useful! Let me know what you think! Do you have a free resource that you swear by? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

Best follow up hack

How to follow up like a pro

Good follow up practices can make your business thrive vs make your business die. It sounds harsh, but it’s kinda true.

In this article, I’m going to talk about following up, why you want to do it, and how to do it!

And I’ll give you my #1 best follow up hack!

Why follow up?

It sounds like a no-brainer, but not everyone does!

  1. One thing that happens when you follow up: the recipient knows that you are still there.
  2. The recipient knows that you are still interested.
  3. The recipient knows that you are on top of things.
  4. And you don’t let things fall through the cracks.

Why don’t they respond?

You’re right, they don’t all respond. It sucks! You pour your heart out to a potential new client, you tell them what’s so good about you and why they need you and they don’t even reply. I admit, it sucks.

They’re busy! They need your help – probably because they are busy!

This is exactly why you need to follow up!

When to follow up

Is there a specific time frame you should follow? I usually follow up 5-7 days later, just depending on the day of the week that I sent the initial email.

For example, if I send them my initial email on Monday, I might follow up as early as Friday, so they can go into the weekend thinking about me! Or the following Monday at the latest.

If I send my initial email pitch on Wednesday, I might follow up as soon as the next Monday.

Either way, put it on your calendar or on your pitch tracker and when it says to follow up – just do it!

What do you say in a follow-up?

I follow up with something like this:

Have you made a decision yet? If you chose to go with someone else, could you provide feedback so I can make improvements if needed? Thanks for your time and good luck to you!

That is literally, exactly what my follow up email would say! Very simple and to the point. If they didn’t have time to reply to my first email, why would I want to overburden them with another long-ish email?

Can you force them to reply?

Unfortunately, no. There’s nothing you can do to force someone to reply. But you never know – they may be so overwhelmed that they haven’t even decided yet, and your follow up could be just what they need to make a decision!

I actually got a client this way back earlier in my virtual assisting career!

Why You Need a Follow Up System for Your Business

What else can you do?

Is there anything else you can do to aid in your follow up efforts?

Actually, there is!

I use something called Get Notify. It’s a free read-email notification. Check it out at www.getnotify.com

Ok, so using GetNotify is two-fold.

  1. When you see that the recipient has opened your email, then at least you know it got to them and they opened it. Yay!
  2. But it tells you more – if you see they’ve opened it several times, that could give you an indication that they wanted to read and reread your email!I think that multiple opens is a good sign!

Something you can do when you see they’ve opened your email is to call them. I’m not big on phone calls until they are an established client, so I don’t do it exactly this way, but it may be a tactic you could use.

This is it – my #1 best follow up hack

Picture this: your prospect opens your email. Then all of a sudden they get a call from you! Some will feel like it’s fate, or serendipity, that you called just as they were looking at your email!

But be careful! DON’T say, “I saw you opened my email”. You don’t want to sound like a creepy stalker! Lol

DO say, “I emailed you last week and I just wanted to follow up and see if you have any questions.” WOW!

Back when I was doing outside sales, this sort of tactic would work well when sending a proposal to a current customer. If they’re looking at my email, they might be ready to talk to me right now.

Same goes for pitching a new client. If they’re looking at my email, they may be ready to talk to me or hear more about me. If I think I left anything out of my email, I have used their opening an email as an opportunity to reply and add any relevant info that I feel I missed.

It’s like I’m answering potential questions they may have before they even respond. Just remember to keep it short. It’s perfect to say what I said above, “Just following up to see if you have any questions.”

Summary

While you can make a consistent process for yourself, you can’t control the prospect variable. But following up never hurt anyone. I promise. And if someone says, “your follow-up kinda annoyed me (or replace that with the word that sets you off)” – trust me, you don’t want to work with that person!

Please subscribe so you can get my weekly tips for new freelancers!

 

Quit calling yourself a freelancer

Should you call yourself a freelancer? There's probably a better term you could use!

I might be aging myself, but when I hear freelancer, I think hippie. Even now that I know I’m a freelancer, I still think it.🤷‍♀️

If you’re a freelancer, please don’t be mad! I’m a freelancer – it’s a stigma we need to get past!

Since people still think like I did (do?) we need to shift our mindset.

Bottom line: You need to quit calling yourself a freelancer!

What is a freelancer?

Let’s start here. What is a freelancer? A freelancer is someone who works for themself as an independent contractor.

Oftentimes, people go into freelance work for freedom and flexibility when it comes to the work they do. While that notion seems brilliant, sadly, one of the things commonly associated with “freelance” is inconsistent income, and presumably, a lack of business savvy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

My mindset story

I have always said that I became a virtual assistant when I SAID that I was a virtual assistant. It was my attitude. It was the perception that I conveyed when talking about my new endeavor.

Actually, I didn’t speak as though it was new. I spoke as though I was in the thick of it, when in fact I didn’t even have a client yet. But I had the experience, so I felt like I was doing it all along!

That was my mindset.

Freelancer to Virtual Assistant

Change your mindset to change the perception

If the association with “freelance” is less than desirable, then don’t call yourself a freelancer.

A term I’ve recently been using is “independent contractor”. I feel like more people understand that means I work for myself. As in, I don’t have an employer. I like the connotation of that, and that’s just what I’ve found myself saying.

If I get into a discussion about what I actually do, that’s when I say that I’m a Virtual Assistant, which usually leads to describing what I do for my current clients.

So let’s find a better “name” for what I do. What do I do for my ideal client? Well, my favorite task is to respond to customer emails. I want to solve their problems!

What does that do for my clients? It provides a superior experience for their customers. Everyone wants to be heard – to receive a response. When customers are attended to, they feel important and that makes them happy.

And when customers are happy, they remain customers. And they refer their friends!

So what could I call this? A customer coordinator? Customer experience manager? In simple terms, I say that I manage their inboxes. 🤷‍♀️😂 While it’s true, if you were trying to find a better title, you might pick something like Customer Experience Manager.

Actually, I like that one!🤔 Oh! Customer Experience Expert! Yessss!!!

What other professionals have to say about mindset

Don’t take it just from me. I mean, anyone can write on the internet! 😂 Here is what some others have said about the topic…

I like how Borja Moya describes the freelancer mindset in this article. It basically says that you become a freelancer when you think about yourself and act as a professional. It’s your mindset that takes you to the next level.

Brennan Dunn of Double Your Freelancing advocates finding a better name to describe what you do. Brennan’s course, Double Your Freelancing Rate, revolves around a mindset shift that needs to take place so that you are properly valuing yourself and your services.

Go to his website and right off the bat you can get a FREE 9-day course tailored to you! Click the big blue button to get started!

Raelyn Tan is a list-building expert. On her website, she has online courses to help you build your email list. I love her List Building Incubator course, but scroll past that and you’ll find some free downloads! She calls herself a Profitable Visibility Specialist. Isn’t that a jazzy way to say, list-building expert?!

Does your degree or professional designation change anything?

Umm, I mean, sort of. And not necessarily. 🤷‍♀️

If you have some letters after your name, it’s a credibility that you earned and you should use that to tell people what you’ve accomplished! Realistically, they’ll figure it out if you’re legit or not.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any letters! This is not to say that you need them to be a freelancer!

But definitely use your professional designations. People with letters after their name can usually command higher rates because of the perceived authority that comes with the education required to get those little letters!

Actually, I think this is a whole other conversation, so I’ll be circling back to it in the coming weeks: how to go from a professional employment career to a freelance/independent contractor gig.

Actionable activity

Grab a piece of paper, or open up a Google Doc. Describe what you do for your clients.

Don’t have any clients? What is it that you want to do for your ideal client? What have you done for clients or customers in the past (think past life, like employer situations)?

What outcome do they (or will they) experience as a result of working with you?

Try using short, bullet statements. Look through your bullet points and start combining words like I did above. “Customer Experience Manager”, “Customer Experience Expert”.

As you’re pulling together the different words, certain words will start to sound right. They’ll POP. Notice that I gravitated to Customer and Experience – these words were popping for me! But the 3rd word wasn’t exactly right.

Keep stringing the words together in a different order. Say them out loud. Hopefully, you have a big Ah-Ha moment like I did when you strike the right combination!

I would love to hear what you come up with!

 

I hope this article and the exercise help you to shift your mindset to a place of greater value and help you find a different way to describe yourself! Because what you do is surely valuable!

Refocus your business

How to get refocused in the New Year

Welcome, 2021! Thank God you’re here! Even though things won’t change overnight, there’s a mindset that 2020 just needs to be gone! Done! Buh-bye!

With the coming of a new year, it’s a great time to get refocused in all areas of your life. But for the sake of this article, I want to talk about your small business.

What does it mean to refocus

Do you know what it means to refocus? In terms of business, it could mean adjusting your vision. Or maybe reallocating resources.

But how exactly do you do that?

2 easy steps to help you get refocused

You have to start with your vision. What, historically, has been the vision of your business? For some, this will be easy to answer. For others, not so much. But don’t worry, we’ll get there!

1. What is your vision?

Ask yourself these questions:

Why did you start your business?

Who do you want to service/help?

Let’s look at my business as an example.

Why did I start my business?

I started my business so I could be home with my kids but still use skills that I’ve learned over the years. As a Virtual Assistant, I want to help small business owners who need support but don’t need a full-time employee.

Who do I want to service?

I want to provide services to small business owners.

More specifically, through my articles and products – I want to help NEW freelancers who have questions and don’t have time to take all of the courses or read all of the books.

I want my articles to be short, easy to read, and include just a few actionable items so that someone new can use the information NOW.

Why? Because I’ve purchased and taken soooo many courses and I feel like I could’ve gotten the info in so many fewer words! Lol, but I totally get it – I mean, they needed there to be more content to sell it, right?🤷‍♀️

Now, looking back, my vision hasn’t always been this clear. As I’ve written more articles, it’s really hit me that I think I can help new freelancers.

So that’s my new vision. This will help me stay focused when I’m thinking about what I need to do on a daily basis.

2. Reallocate resources

When we say resources, we could be talking about money or time. Ooooh, tricky! Yes, time is one of our most valuable resources!

Are you spending your time wisely? Based on your vision, should you adjust the use of your time?

I’m not adjusting my time spending habits, per se, but I did come up with a daily and weekly checklist system to keep me on track. So many times I feel like I get to the end of the day and I haven’t done something I’m supposed to do.

It seems so simple! Like, duh! But sometimes we overlook the easiest things.

Refocus and Grow Your Small Business

Now you do it!

  1. What’s your vision for your business? Are you happy with it?
  2. Do you need to adjust your time? Could you make a short checklist of daily and weekly tasks to keep you on track?

 

I hope you found this to be helpful! Next week, I’ll be looking more closely at mindset.

While you’re thinking about refocusing, are you happy with your branding? Does it tell people who you are? Are you happy with the image that you portray?

If you haven’t looked at it already, please check out my Branding Template! We have a new template in the works – a daily and weekly task list to help keep you focused!

My Branding Template and Asset Pack is a collection of my best resources to help you with your small business! Is there something you need? I’d love to hear about it!

Branding

BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS

The branding you choose for your business is the distinctive design that you use across all marketing channels. It’s how people recognize you!

In this article, I’m going to show you some resources to help you create your brand from scratch, or to rebrand.

Why create a brand

You choose a brand because you want to be consistent. Brand recognition is when people recognize the product or service because of the brand.

If you’re just getting started,  you might not have any idea what you want for branding. Don’t let this hold you back from moving forward in your business!

Rebranding

We’re approaching the new year, so I’m looking at re-branding my business. My business isn’t just me anymore and I want to consider a fresh brand for my virtual assistant business.

Actually, I just recently worked on defining my brand for my side gig – a direct sales company. As I worked on it, I created a template which you can get here.

TIPS FOR BRANDING YOUR VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS

YVA Branding Template

In this template, I walk you through how to pick the vibe, name, colors you like, and potential icons. In this case, I was trying to choose a name for my direct sales team.

But you can totally apply this to any small business! I have a pretty good idea of what I like for my virtual assistant business (Your Virtual Associate, or YVA for short) but I will fill out the template and show you a couple of examples.

Branding Template Examples

First, you see the completed template for my direct sales team. I haven’t chosen a team name yet, so you’ll see in the logo ideas that the text still says “team name.”

Branding my Thirty-One direct sales team

Next, you’ll see my Branding Template filled in with my goals and ideas for Your Virtual Associate. As you will notice, I added an extra color dot. I couldn’t decide so I just added in another space and grabbed colors from the images I used.

Your Virtual Associate re-branding worksheet

When you purchase my Branding Template, you’ll receive instructions to walk you through the whole process!

Free Logo Design

Free Logo Design allows you to, fairly quickly, design a logo and download a low-resolution copy for free! I made a logo that I like and then I popped it into my template.

The logo I designed is in my template above, in the “biz logo ideas,” the first and last images. I downloaded the first one which I received by email. Then I edited it and promptly downloaded the new version without the text.

While we’re looking at the template I created, notice that the first image in the “images that inspire” section is the banner image on my website. I chose the other images searching in Canva for “work from home” and “home office”.

I think I chose the last image because of how clean it looks! Haha! Seriously, choose something that inspires you – either your current environment or the environment you aspire to!

Looka

Looka is another free logo creator.  It’s not free to download though. But you can get a ton of digital materials starting at around $60.

I’ve enjoyed playing with this tool, but I just happen to be happier with what I created in Free Logo Design. Hey, it’s always nice to save a few $$$!

What do you think

YVA re-branding options

What do you like for YVA? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m thinking Color group 2, B, and X. What do you think? When I decide on A vs B, I’ll probably go back and spend $39 to get the high-resolution copies. But in the meantime, I’m pretty happy with free!

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t joined my mailing list, please do! I send out weekly business tips geared towards small business owners!

And remember to grab the YVA Branding Template so you can hash out your own ideas!

 

 

 

Should I start freelancing during the pandemic?

Should I Start Freelancing During the Pandemic

So you’re thinking about freelancing? In the midst of a pandemic, I’m not surprised! There are many reasons that people turn to freelancing. But should you start freelancing during the pandemic? The short answer (TLDR): yes!

Now I’ll explain.

But first, what is freelancing?

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is a non-traditional means of making money. It is non-traditional in the sense that it is not the typical means of employment. Freelancers are independent contractors. They are responsible for their own income reporting and taxes.

Why do people want to freelance?

So why would someone want to freelance? When you’re a freelancer, you’re your own boss. Who wouldn’t like that? Some people don’t work well without a boss telling them what to do. But if you’re a self-starter and don’t need someone micro-managing you, telling you when and how to do your job, then freelancing could be for you!

Freelancers set their own hours. They work from their own home office (or kitchen table). They can take time off as needed and don’t usually have to let anyone know about it.

Freelancers, like myself, are home and available to get the kids online for eLearning. I make sure my 4-year-old is paying attention to his teacher. When he’s done, I hop back online to work for my clients.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are some other pretty interesting statistics that might perk up your ears. According to this article on Websitebuilder.org, 25% of freelancers can find work within 1 day if needed. And in 2019, freelancing contributed $1 trillion to the US economy. WOW!

Should I start freelancing during the pandemic?

Should you start freelancing now, during the pandemic? Sure! It’s a sad fact that you may have to try. But let me tell you why that’s OK.

According to Market Watch, more than 22 million people lost their jobs in the first half of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that emerged in the US in March of 2020. I’m sorry if you or someone close to you is one of those statistics.

But it’s time to look forward! So…

How to Start a Freelance Gig

 

How do you break into freelancing?

I think one of the hardest things about losing your job or getting into freelancing is explaining why you’ve come to the decision to start freelancing.

If you’re used to working in an office, you don’t realize how mainstream freelancing is in some circles. But I can see how someone might not want to tell their friends and former co-workers that they are now freelancing. It just sounds strange. Or does it?

Change your mindset. Now.

Say this out loud and take ownership of it: I decided to start (fill in the blank with your job or skill) as an independent contractor instead of an employee because (fill in the blank with your key reason for working for yourself).

Here’s what I would say: I decided to start doing marketing consulting as an independent contractor so I can be home and available for my kids when they’re little.

Now, you may have lost your job because of the pandemic and if you’re comfortable saying that, then by all means say that! But if you’re feeling down about it, like you didn’t have a choice, put a spin on it.

Find the reasons that freelancing is an advantage for you and say that you made this decision just in time. Or it was serendipity that you can now be a freelancer instead of an employee.

Say, “I had been thinking about going out on my own for some time. Now it’s a blessing to be home with my kids while they’re eLearning.”

I’m going out on my own

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard someone say, I’m going out on my own. 

Anyone who says that is a freelancer! They may not consider themself a freelancer, but it’s essentially the same thing! They are an independent contractor.

True, that person going out on their own may eventually incorporate their business. But the beginning of the process is very similar.

If you’re not comfortable with the term freelancer, you can say it this way.

Examples of jobs you can do freelance

Let’s look at what you can do. Freelancers take a skill that they have and offer it “on the side”. If you find yourself without a job, you can take something that you did for your employer and offer it on a contractual basis to someone else similar to your former employer.

The examples are going to be endless, but I’ll start a list.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Content creator
  • Secretary
  • Scheduler
  • Calendar management
  • Appointment setter
  • Customer service
  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Programmer

I think you get the idea. Horkey Handbook has published a very long list to give you some ideas of things you can do as a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is basically a freelancer.

How do you start getting jobs?

When you get in the groove and get comfortable with your new role as a freelancer, you’ll see opportunities. You’ll be prepared to talk about it – what you could do to solve someone’s problem. Or better yet, what you can do to increase their revenue.

But what about now? There are several job boards for freelancers. One that I’ve used with success is called Upwork. I don’t use it regularly now, but I probably have looked at it in the last year just to see what people are looking for.

If I suddenly lost all of my clients, I would look there to see if anything caught my attention. According to that article on Websitebuilder.org, freelancers earn over a billion dollars yearly on Upwork.

What’s next?

Well, I guess it depends on if you’re out of a job or if you’re just thinking about your options.

If you’re out of work, I would get signed up with Upwork immediately and start making offers! The site is pretty self-explanatory. Fill out everything as completely as possible. And start pitching!

If you’re looking at options for stay at homework, or to replace your day job, check out this list of services you can provide. You can get it in exchange for your email address. It’s totally worth it!

How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business

HOW TO START A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS

So you want to know how to start a virtual assistant business. My simple answer: SAY that you’re a virtual assistant. But follow this list and you can start TODAY!

Below is a list of the 5 key things you need to start a virtual assistant business.

You need a place to work

That’s easy! As an independent contractor, you can work anywhere! I have a small office in my house, but I’m sitting at the kitchen table as I write this post. Almost my entire last pregnancy was worked from the couch!

I have clients who regularly spend time at a coffee shop and another client who needs to go to the library when she wants a strong internet connection. So really – anywhere!

Steps to Start a Virtual Assistant Business

You need a computer to do the work

As an independent contractor, you are responsible for “outfitting” your own “office”. But if you already have a computer, you don’t need a new one! Just use what you have!

Honestly, though, with cloud access to so many things, you could work off of a computer at the library until you earn enough to get your own! Talk about bootstrapping!

You’ll need internet access

You have to be able to do the work and submit it virtually. I can’t think of any way to do this without access to the internet.

Does it need to be your own internet? Absolutely not! You can go to a library or coffee shop to access their internet.

Still in the days of COVID and you can’t sit in a coffee shop? Sit in your car in a parking lot where they have internet access – Starbucks, Mcdonald’s, etc.

Have you ever seen the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness? Oh boy, I just cried watching the trailer! I think of that movie and I think that anyone can do anything if they really want to!

People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. – Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness

You need clients

Tell everyone. Work it into conversations! The more you say it, the more you will believe it. And the more you believe it, the more it will be true!

I was recently interviewed in a podcast about becoming a VA and right around the 19:15 mark, I am asked about my first client. I go on in the interview to explain that my first client was my physical therapist and that it came about through simple conversation! You can listen to it via the link above or you can watch it on Youtube!

If you want more info about how to get clients, you might want to take a course. I suggest 30 Days or Less to VA Success. I’ll tell you more about it in a bit.

You’ll need a contract

Once you get your first client, what do you do next? You’ll need an Independent Contractor Service Agreement, or contract for short. I’m working on a template pack right now! At the time I’m writing this, you can actually pre-order it at a lower price!

So those are the 5 key things that I think you need to start a VA business.

Of course, there will be other things you’ll eventually need, but you don’t need them to get started. Someday you might want to make a website or make your business really legit by registering the name or creating an LLC.

You can learn more about these things and tactics for finding clients if you decide to take the 30 Days or Less to VA Success course.

I highly recommend taking any of Gina Horkey’s courses. Gina is the founder of Horkey Handbook. She’s an infinitely successful Virtual Assistant turned course developer who will help you set up your business to be a smashing success.

But don’t think for a minute that you have to take a course to get started! You can start your VA business for $12.99 – the cost of a contract template that you will use over and over!

Can you be a virtual assistant with kids?

Tips for Working at Home with Kids

Can you be a virtual assistant with kids at home? Absolutely! Even with small kiddos like mine! My kids are 6, 4, and less than 1 year. AND, we’ll be starting first grade and full-day pre-K next week from home!  🤣

I was choosing to keep the kids home this year. Thanks to Covid and the expectations to wear masks and social distance while in school, I just didn’t think that was realistic for our little ones.  But after making my choice, our school district announced that we would ALL be e-Learning at least until mid-October.

Where did I learn to be a virtual assistant?

I guess I learned it over the years! My first job out of college was technical services – kind of like customer service but more technical in nature. I have taken several courses from Horkey Handbook, but what I really recommend is to get this list from them – it’s 150+ services you can offer as a VA. The list is free – just give your email in exchange for the list. Check it out and you’ll see that you already have services you could offer!

How do the kids affect my virtual assistant business?

I mean, it does affect my business a little bit. But it’s not going to be a huge burden. I am so blessed that I’m already working from home. And to top it off, I can set my own schedule. So my day will change a bit because of the e-Learning requirements, but honestly, I’m feeling pretty lucky!

 

Tips for Working at Home with Kids - Pin

What will our days look like?

The school day starts at 7:45 am and ends at 2:15 pm. Before I was pregnant with the baby, I would get up around 5:30 am when my husband leaves for work. I could get in a solid 2 hours of work before the kids even got up. It was awesome!

Now that we have the baby – who still doesn’t sleep through the night – I am sometimes up that early, but not consistently.  But what I am hoping for is to get up early and get in even just 1 hour before the kids need to start school.

That one hour before school starts will be my bonus time! But I won’t bank on it. I will plan on starting my workday around 3 pm when the kids are done with school and I’m done feeding the baby. Because that still has to happen! 🍼

How do other virtual assistants fit their business into their day?

As many VA’s are getting started, many are still working full time while they slowly add clients to their roster. Many VA’s get up early and then work late at night after a full day of work and the family goes to bed.

Where will we all sit?

Sounds like a funny question, but I know you’re thinking it! I’ve been watching my friends post their school setups on Facebook for the past week. I don’t know if we have a good setup, but I’m giving it a shot!

We’re all going to sit at the kitchen table. Our kitchen and living room all blend into one space. I have a small office, but I’ve been at the kitchen table since the baby was born. I need to be right in the room with everyone so I can keep my eagle eye on the baby and the other kids!

We also have a playroom that I thought about setting up like a school, but decided against it since that would require a table or desks. Plus since they’re so young, they’ll need my help for almost the whole day, so I decided on the kitchen table.

Staying organized is key!

I’m adding a small cubbie shelving unit next to the table so I can keep our stuff off of the table while school is not in session!🤣 I got something to match the other shelving unit we already have in the living room. My husband makes fun of my shelves. I love my shelves!

I think being organized is a very big part of working from home and now schooling from home too! If you are organized, both physically and digitally, you will spend less time prepping and more time working.

One of the things that keeps me organized digitally is Trello. I’m a big fan. And Client Portal. In fact, I have a discount code you can use for Client Portal. Use CARRIESdiscount at checkout to get 10% off! You can see more about Client Portal in this article I wrote.

Summary

Yes, you can totally be a virtual assistant with kids at home!! Actually, I recommend it! Unlike another job that you have to work specific hours, you’ll be free to set your schedule and work the hours that are best for you and your family!

Thanks for checking out my blog and seeing what I have to say about being a virtual assistant! Join my email list to stay in the know about virtual assisting!