I’m pleased to welcome Isabella Renner of Faithful Advantage to share her story on my blog this week. When corporate layoffs left Isabella without a job, she took advantage of the opportunity to build a business that allows her to work from home! She’s an inspiration and an amazing source of information for anyone interested in following this path. Here’s her story…
When I was 5, I set my heart on becoming a virtual assistant. I just knew this would be my career path right away.
Ha! Yeah, right! I wish life were that straightforward 😊.
Have you ever had to start something over entirely from scratch? Your life, maybe? Well, this happened to me, and not just on one occasion. In this post, I’d like to tell you all about one of my restart moments, and how I became a VA.
I worked for a large insurance company in North Carolina for 12 years until hundreds of us were called into a meeting out-of-the-blue and given the boot.
So, here I was laid off and with no real plan for what to do next.
I drifted for a couple of months, applying for jobs, but my heart wasn’t in it.
The Email That Changed Everything
One day, I was searching the web for work-from-home opportunities. I “met” Caitlyn Pyle, founder of proofreadanywhere. I checked her out, found she was legit and signed up for her newsletter. One day, her email included a promotion for Gina Horkey’s 30 Days To Virtual Assistant Success course.
The idea of becoming a VA immediately connected with me. It’s hard to describe, but when you know, you know. You know?
Even so, it took me a few months to actually sign up for the course. I was reluctant to part with the money! I’m sure some of you can relate LOL. Big risk, right? All the “what ifs” came into my mind and I just couldn’t. Not right away.
It took another few emails and some inner battles before I mustered up the courage to take the plunge.
Am I glad I did! I was still scared, but I knew that no matter what, this was the path I wanted to follow.
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success was an eye-opening Experience for me. I hadn’t thought about getting a tax ID or if I needed to register my business. Not only are these essential elements pointed out in the course, but the action steps within the course show you exactly how to get them done!
The course (at that time) included a free Facebook group for current and past students. This Facebook group was great for communicating and bouncing ideas off one another. Since then, the group has been converted to a paid group ($38 per month) but is full of value. Guest appearances, niche training, leads from prospective clients, and much more. I recommend the group for VAs going through Gina’s course.
Learning to Pitch
So, I hear that there’re people out there who love to pitch! Not me, LOL. But this skill is essential to building a VA business. If you don’t pitch, you’re less likely to get the great clients you want and deserve.
Here’s what I’ve learned about pitching: It gets more comfortable over time. I mean that.
You’re Offering a Service
Don’t think of pitching as selling yourself; think of it as offering a service to fulfill a need you know will benefit your prospective client. This is where taking the time to understand what the client needs or wants is essential.
When you’re starting, you can use a template for pitching. Just adjust the template to match your potential clients’ needs. What do you have to lose? If you pitch, you may get a denial (or no response!), but you’ll get some responses that’ll seem like the client was out there looking for you!
On the other hand, if you don’t send any pitches, you definitely won’t receive a reply, yeah or nay, so you’ll end up right where you started.
It’s just a business truth that you must put yourself out there to be successful. You need resilience to survive the inevitable bumps in the road you’ll face.
A Few Tips
Set Your Goals
You must have a vision, no matter how “small” you think your business is. Try to write down your goals and refer to them regularly. Just making money is not the best vision in the service industry, y’all! You’re unlikely to get far if dolla dolla bills are your main focus!
Taking care of the client, providing value, building trust, these are things that will bring long-term success. The money will follow if you focus on long-term goals that provide value and trust.
You should write something. Seriously. For a long time, I just had a post or two on my site hoping for an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. It didn’t work! To see some results, it’s a good idea to write several relevant and helpful posts and spread the love. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s perfect. Just write from your heart in your own voice, and you’ll be fine. It’s better to get it done than for it to be perfect.
Surround yourself with the positive
Forget the haters. Focus on positive quotes, affirmations and people who support and love you no matter what. And yes, this might not be some members of your family. I’ve met several encouraging folks along the way, and my family, for the most part, has been very supportive.
I met the lovely Lisa Mills when I was starting on Pinterest, got on her email list, and she taught me all about pin set up, group boards, and affiliate marketing. I can’t say enough good things about this generous lady. If you’re planning to blog or get into affiliate promotions, she’s an excellent coach.
Keep Taking Action
Finally, don’t give up! If you’re doing this right, you’ll have some difficult times. These will pass; just keep moving! Keep right on sending your proposals and pitches, keep writing and providing value to your audience, and work on building your email list.
My Typical Day
These days, I’ve settled into a rhythm. I start every day at 5 am with devotion time. This settles me for the day; I give thanks and ask for what I want. Next, I complete a somewhat sketchy work-out routine. It’s not perfect, but it makes me happy LOL. I then work on the first item from my planned activities for the day.
After this, I run around getting my daughter ready for school. Believe me; work is a whole lot less stressful than getting this kid out the door 😅! Once she’s safely off to school, I get some breakfast, shower, and then work on my next item for the day. Yes, I do take showers, thank you very much!
More About Work
Twice-a-week I schedule some time to write or brainstorm ideas. I check client emails and social media every morning and evening ONLY unless something comes through the filter because it’s marked urgent or, (let me be honest here) if my mind wanders!
I don’t plan more than 3 action items for the day though. More than three and I start spinning.
Dinner is usually a quick prep affair (I try to plan all the meals ahead of time), and then I take some time to chill.
You’ll Find What You Enjoy the Most Along the Way
I’m happiest when I’m creating something; a graphic in Canva or setting up a social profile. My favorite platform is Pinterest by far. I’ve gained projects and referrals just from using Pinterest to spread value and market services!
Of course, some days are disturbed by illness or an unexpected visit. Adding some buffer time helps me stay or track for any upcoming deadlines.
Here are some resources that have helped me along the way:
You can use these checklists to onboard new clients and plan your website pages:
Lisa’s Freebie Library // The always gracious Lisa Mills of Heart My Life provides an impressive collection of free resources on her site for blogging and business. Feel free to check it out and download to help meet your business goals!
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success Course // Horkey Handbook’s course I took to start my VA journey is still going strong! If you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant now or in the future, you can view the course right here.
Isabella Renner is a virtual assistant and founder of Faithful Advantage Virtual Assistant Specialties. She helps online business owners fulfill their vision and increase their social reach.
Her goal is to support and empower, so that clients have the time and energy to not just run their businesses smoothly, but to stand out while doing so.
Learn more about her and her business and services at faithfuladvantage.com.