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This post was written by the incredible Gina Horkey, from Horkey Handbook. Gina makes some serious money as a V.A. (and now teaches people how to become a Pinterest Virtual Assistant so they can too) and has some awesome insight in the life of a Virtual Assistant. Take it away, Gina!
Welcome, Gina! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, my name is Gina Horkey and I’m a self-identified married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers from Minnesota. It’s a mouthful, right?
Although that in itself could be a full-time job, I’m also a professional writer, virtual assistant and have a products business teaching others how to break into freelance writing, VA work and write and launch their own courses.
On a personal note, I’m the breadwinner to our young family of four, my husband is a SAHD and we finally cashed in on this flexible lifestyle thing to relocate to South Padre Island, Texas for two months this winter. It was amazing and we plan to do it again next year!
What services does a Virtual Assistant offer?
Really whatever they’d like.
I think the common stereotype for a VA is someone that does data entry or other mindless activities. Yes, many times webpreneurs/small business owners pass off stuff that they don’t like or have time to do, but it can be really interesting work too.
I classify virtual assistant work as any skills that you can trade for pay - virtually. So this could be blog management, email/calendar management, customer service, marketing, content writing, technology, bookkeeping - the list goes on! We’ve identified 125 services (and counting) that you can offer as a VA and get paid for.
How did you get started as a Virtual Assistant?
I spotted an opportunity and asked to be hired.
The longer version is that I had taken a course from a prominent webpreneur, had some questions (which I asked over email) and noticed that although it seemed like he wanted to get back to me, he had a hard time doing so in a timely manner.
So I identified the problem and pitched myself as the solution. And he said yes!
What costs are involved with getting started?
None really. You need to have a computer and reliable internet access, but beyond that you’re good to go.
Of course, you’ll want to leverage your current skills and continue to strengthen them/learn new ones. But you don’t need any fancy software or equipment to start a new VA business.
How do you find clients?
That’s always the hardest part of any new business, right?
I teach my students to #AlwaysBeMarketing. I.e. always be on the lookout for opportunities and when you spot one, pitch yourself as a solution.
Now, this should go hand-in-hand with building relationships, because not everyone is willing to take a chance on someone unknown. So building relationships (online and in-person) is a great way to get to know small business owners and influencers and hopefully become the go-to person when they (or someone they know) is ready to hire.
A few tangible ways to find clients:
Start a blog/website
Go to in-person networking events
Use social media
Ask people you know for referrals
What should you charge?
Great question (and one I get a lot!).
It depends. I know, not the answer you want to hear. But I believe that rates are kinda personal. I.e. what I need to make to support my family might be totally different than someone that lives in California or someone that lives in Southeast Asia.
Cost of living differences aside, the limited research that exists shows that the average North American VA charges $35-50+ per hour. I’ve seen the range span $20-100/hr in my community. You need to charge high enough to make the work worth it for you AND to cover self-employment taxes and lack of benefits. You are self-employed after all!
How do you receive payments?
Each of my clients pays me differently.
One of them pays me via payroll and the sum is deposited via direct deposit into my business checking account at the beginning of the month. Another pays me via credit card (through Stripe, which is integrated with FreshBooks, my invoicing system). And the third pays me via a weekly recurring payment using PayPal.
Any tips for staying motivated and organized?
I think the best tip I have for staying motivated is to have a long time horizon.
I.e. Don’t expect to build a sustainable business that you can work in for the next 30 years in 30 days. But you can expect to build a strong foundation in that first 30 days. It just takes time (and consistent effort!) to develop a rock solid client list and VA business that you love!
This is awesome! How do I get started?
Ready to start a new career as a Pinterest Virtual Assistant? You can grab a FREE Pinterest VA Prep Book right here.
It’ll cover topics like: traits that make for a good VA, services you can offer, how much to charge, how to find clients using social media and cold pitching.
Or you can just go out and start networking and prospecting for clients! Depends on your personality. ;-)
What courses do you recommend to get the ball rolling? How will they help?
My other paid course is called, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. It's an in-depth, 12 module course that will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know about starting your own VA business from scratch. It's perfect for beginners or those looking to level-up their client base.
What are people saying about your courses?
"This course has been extremely informative as well as addicting! Like a great book I just could not put it down! My aha moment was reading about batching. As I was reading it I was saying out loud how much I need to implement this. I always feel as though I am bouncing around and not completing things in both my personal and business life, and I really feel that implementing this system will solve the problem. Thank you for this...it will be a lifesaver!" -Michele Garvin
"Thank you for putting together this program! I left my corporate job a few years ago, after feeling stuck; there was no light at the end of the corporate tunnel. It felt like I was going to be working an excessive amount of hours, for problems that were never fully solved, forever. I quit...Anyway, I have been looking for my next step for a few years now. Nothing has seemed like the right fit. I read about virtual assisting and it was finally the lightbulb I have been waiting for. THIS is the job I have been envisioning for myself...The Penny Hoarder shared your story; I went back and read that article 3 times before purchasing this course. Thank you for giving me guidance how to take this idea and transform it into reality. I understand what I am offering, what my guidelines are for pricing, and what I still want to learn/offer... - Esther Jaffa
Thank you so much for guest posting, Gina! If you guys are interested in getting started as a jack-of-all-trades Virtual Assistant, Gina offers an incredible Pinterest V.A. course called Become a Pinterest VA TODAY!
Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s a professional writer and online business marketing consultant with a decade of experience in the financial services industry. Gina enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time via her website, Horkey HandBook.
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