I have been working from home since 2015 but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to start a service based business.
I went from being a software engineer, slowly climbing her way up the corporate ladder for three years, until I decided that it was time to do things from home.
It wasn’t an easy transition. In fact, I waited until I secured a remote job position as an editorial assistant for a huge parenting website, before sending in my one month’s notice. I was super new to the world of freelancing and remote jobs that I even waited for my first paycheck before handing over my resignation. (I had really good employers then, we just had a quick chat – no formal interview, really – and I was hired on the spot.)
It turns out that they based my pay on what I had put on my online profile in a job marketplace. Luckily, it was much more than what I was making as a programmer.
Fast forward to two years and it has been a whirlwind of a ride.
I got fired from my remote job for spending too much time on my blog. LOL. It turns out, I wasn’t really ready for a 9 to 5 setup at home, especially since I run a family travel blog.
However, life gets in the way and you have to take care of adult responsibilities. I did take on yet another 9-5 remote job, which lasted a year, along with some freelancing hustles on the side.
It wasn’t really until I came back from my maternity leave in 2017 that everything started to click.
I decided it was time to call it quits and broke it off with my remote job (as an editorial assistant for a travel media blog, no less). It was time to put on my big girl panties and face the world of freelancing – only this time, it did it a lot more differently.
So, what exactly did I do to earn a consistent $1,200 income during my first three months in virtual assistant business?
1. Changed my mindset
This is perhaps the biggest leap I did when I started running my service-based business back in October 2017.
Up until that point, I had the mindset of a worker bee – and that I could only earn money if I got employed in a 9 to 5 remote job.
However, I realized that the setup was not an option, considering I had just given birth to my second baby. As an exclusively breastfeeding mom, I had to work around his schedule and made sure I was there when he cried.
Because of this, I learned what it took to run a business: to manage your time properly, find clients and pitch to them, and stick to my rates. I learned how to sell my services and to negotiate for the right price.
When I started out as a freelance writer for hire sometime in 2008, I was writing 500-word articles for $1 each and it was exhausting. I did the same thing in 2015 and it was still just as exhausting. When I finally decided to give up the penny projects, I almost immediately invited the higher-paying projects, which were 10x – even 50x – more than I had been earning.
Aside from having a business person mindset, I also made sure to have the right money mindset. Keeping yourself open to more money and more projects helped create a positive vibration around me and attract such kinds of projects.
2. Invested in myself
I never really invested in anything more than a domain and a hosting plan for my blog(s), but this time around, I decided to give it all and invest in a course.
While I knew I had the necessary virtual assistant skills in place due to my experience, I also knew that I lack the experience of a business owner and that it would help to be surrounded by people who have been or are in the same path as I was taking.
One particular course that helped me properly launch my virtual tech assistant business was Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success.
The course had all the right components needed for one to successfully start their virtual assistant companies – and more. It teaches the basic services that you can offer as a virtual assistant but, more importantly, it teaches how to pitch, sell yourself and negotiate rates.
The virtual assistant training course had been very helpful for me, especially as I still get nervous getting emails asking for pricing or when I try to cold email to a potential client. It certainly helps when you know how to make a rebuttal when your potential client has objections to the services or rates that you have.
If you plan on running a freelance writing business, you can also check out this list of awesome courses.
3. Had systems in place
When I started my business as a virtual office assistant, I absolutely had no clue how to pitch and negotiate, let alone properly get my clients onboard after signing the contract and paying the invoice.
My system is honestly still a work in progress but I’ve learned to keep track of my leads, put them into the proper categories in my funnel, and basically keep track of all our back-and-forth emails.
My funnel goes a little something like this: lead → contacted → meeting scheduled → proposal sent → closed (later) / closed (nope/never).
I currently use Dubsado as my customer relationship management software and it is awesome how I can do nearly everything through this tool. I enter my client’s details, send emails and send proposals, contracts and invoices. I can even add to-do’s and calendar items and have them sync to my Google calendar.
I also use it to keep track of my cash flow as it has a bookkeeping feature in it.
4. Interacted and pitched
As someone who is extremely introverted, interactions (yes, even emails) scare the hell out of me.
Aside from being overwhelmed with work, comparison-itis also got the better of me last month.
However, when you decide to finally become your own boss, you have no way around it. Okay, you can probably just wait out for the clients to come in but when you are just starting out, you need to learn to put yourself out there.
I get my clients from various places – some on Facebook groups, still others on Upwork (despite its bad rep, I have been able to slowly increase my rates and find better clients the past year) and others yet, directly through cold emailing.
Regardless, I try my best to interact via email or, even better, schedule a discovery call.
It’s honestly still scary to take on calls – I am not that good at communicating verbally but I am excellent in written (although I still get scared reading and replying to emails).
Here I learned to be very confident in my emails so I don’t have to make calls (unless the client requests) and I learned to make rebuttals and to take charge of calls because I know that my client does not know the skills that I have – that is exactly why they need me.
Related Read: 10 Common Myths About Starting A Freelance Business
5. Took care of my clients
I got my first ever client as a virtual administrative assistant a few months before I started my business. I took really good care of his business that, even though posted about giving a raise a year later, gave me a raise out of the blue a month after we started working together.
As a business owner, I have also done my share of taking really good care of my clients, to the point of providing more value (and even more unpaid hours) when they needed it.
I’ve been working hard on communication, and have also been reading on a lot of books to improve my email marketing and sales funnels game.
I was providing support for an online summit and I honestly thoroughly enjoyed it (managing tech energizes me, probably because of my engineering background). My client was not very techy and I gave her unlimited email support for whatever questions she had about her landing pages, emails and videos.
It’s great when you learn to take care of your clients because then, they become repeat clients and long-time customers.
In fact, I’m pretty excited to work on these strategies on my own business as well as on my current and future clients’ businesses.
My Income Journey
It may not seem like much but when you see my rollercoaster income the past two years (I only really started accounting the past year), you will know that having consistent $1,200 months is already a huge leap for me.
Now I am well on my way towards $2,000-months and I plan to reach five figures by the end of 2018.
Are you ready to take the plunge?
Running an online business from home is perhaps the scariest thing I’ve ever done my entire life – okay, maybe next to taking a plunge into the freelancing world with zero savings, a mortgage and a baby.
I always tell people to go do it when you’re afraid because it motivates you to do whatever it takes to succeed in the path you chose. When you tell yourself to wait for the right moment, you are essentially telling yourself that you will have to wait forever to make things happen.
So, go ahead, take the leap – and don’t forget to share your journey and inspire others too!