I was a 21 year old pregnant woman that never completed her college degree (in Criminal Justice). I never held a real job and as a millennial, I knew that the economy was going to kick my ass.
I also suffer from intense anxiety and I've been diagnosed with several issues that doesn't make getting up and going to work an easy task for me.
The only option I could see for myself was working from home. I didn't know the first thing about it and none of my friends worked from home.
Next came the Google search of legit work from home jobs.
I did the surveys. The fake Amazon reviews.
Paying pennies? I'LL TAKE IT!
My first "real" virtual assistance job
I didn't really catch my real big break working from home until I, by sheer luck and chance, found a job on Craigslist.
Creative writer needed to label adult videos.
Are you kidding me? I CAN DO THIS.
I applied for the job. All they wanted was a native English speaker that could work 3 hours a week for 5 days a week. Pay was $35/hour with bonuses.
Spoiler: If you frequent adult websites and see some outrageous and curiously creative titles, I probably wrote it. Hey, I take my jobs seriously!
I thought I was SET. I was matching my husband's paycheck (he was overseas) and I thought I'd just do this forever.
Then a few months later, the work died down...
Then there wasn't even enough work for me to hit 30 minutes a day...
I felt my stomach knot when I received a message from one of the managers.
All USA based independent contractors were being let go in favor of cheaper, overseas independent contractors.
Yes, this client was amazing and the job was so easy to do. However, I only found this ONE job by accident- combing through Facebook groups, Craigslist, Odesk, and Elance, for hours every single day.
I wasn't an employee though, and I didn't think about that.
Guessing games and seeing what sticks
I did learn something valuable in that job though: the adult industry needed virtual assistants.
Also, I didn't need experience in the adult industry to work there. Or, bonus points, to be on camera or anything like that!
I didn't know what "niches" were at this point (I didn't read any business books) but I realized that if I typed in variations of the word "adult entertainment" into Odesk (now Upwork), I was finding jobs similar to the $35/hour one.
None of them paid nearly as well.
But hey, I needed the money.
I found ghostwriting jobs- "Write me a 5,000 word erotic story" and "I'll send you money to fake purchase my toy. You need to write me a glowing positive review."
I did a bunch of these types of jobs and scraped a hundred dollars one week and two hundred the next week.
Let me say that I worked 10 hours a day- either actually working or trying to find jobs, because if I wasn't actively doing the work, I was trying to find the work.
So $100/week really amounts to a dollar an hour.
Finding my niche and moving away from VA work
Being in the adult entertainment niche, there are two industries that work very closely together: sex and psychics.
A lot of sex phone lines actually double as psychic phone lines, and vice versa.
So, naturally, being in this industry opened the door into the psychic industry.
I've actually been doing fortune telling for fun since I was about 12 years old. I can read tarot cards, do light palmistry, and I am proficient enough in fortune telling to teach other people how to do it.
I snagged all the jobs where people wanted a writer that could write about tarot cards.
A short fortune telling career: Abridged
Eventually I stopped wanting to work for other people.
I started my own website and my own blog all devoted to fortune telling.
I started offering fortune telling as a service... and since this is a legit online business, I started learning about e-mail marketing and techie stuff.
You know... like LeadPages, Teachable, ConvertKit, Wordpress... all the stuff needed to run an online business.
So, I never took a course to learn these things. I learned it with hands on experience using these programs- strategically.
I became well-known enough in the fortune telling industry (featured in a UK magazine, featured in podcasts, won an award) that people started asking me to coach them in building their fortune telling business.
Which led me to hire Maya Elious as a business coach. She taught me the in's and out's of transitioning to business coaching.
This was all fine and dandy, but no one wanted me to coach them. They wanted me to do it for them.
And I'm a tech nerd through and through. I will set up your LeadPages and e-mail lists ALL DAY! So I did it.
Eventually I stopped loving fortune telling and decided I wanted to go back to being a virtual assistant.
I wanted to support other businesses, behind the scenes, and get back into writing.
Maybe not writing about "Big knockers" and "Big knickers" but you get the idea.
So in 2016, I decided to go back to virtual assistance.
Back to square 1... or was it?
By this time, my old friends Odesk and Elance merged and became known as Upwork. I registered for an account and put my old researching skills to work.
The strategy still worked.
I searched keywords for my specific interests.
(Note: I don't search "virtual assistant." I search by topic that I am knowledgable in.)
I was different now, though. Now I have some extra experience in techie things that I didn't, back in 2012.
So I didn't have to take only the low paying jobs that wanted me to write about Big Knockers.
I could charge a little more to set up someone's ConvertKit (because I already did it for my own business!)
I could help business coaches (because I've been a coach myself!)
I took a course on Pinterest in order to better my own business. Now I can do it for others!
So, this is how I was able to snag so many clients so quickly.
Going independent- again!
I knew that Upwork wasn't a long term goal. A lot of the clients on Upwork were not at the level I wanted to work at.
I have a lot of strong tech skills and I wanted to work with clients that had a need for it- not just copy and paste admin VA work that I was doing years ago.
Like my fortune telling business, I saw the biggest success when I built my own website.
So I built my own website for my virtual assistance business. I also took a course, Be Booked Out, to help me launch the website.
It took me... months upon months... to get my website 'right.' You can't see my virtual assistance stuff anymore, since I no longer take on new clients, but it took me so long to get a sales page done right.
Even with a background in owning a small business, I didn't think of strategically putting my website together to appeal to my ideal client. (Click here for the swipe copies of my old VA pages and pitches).
Going for it
I knew there was one specific person I wanted to work for: Maya Eious, my old coach.
I heard she was coming to Raleigh to do a workshop. It was $297.
I had $350 in my business bank account.
So, no brainer, I'm going to see her. (Yes, all the finance and bookkeeping VA's reading this can cringe haha).
I went and I told her I wanted to be her virtual assistant and explained all of my plans.
She hired me within the next month.
Now, I don't advocate doing batshit crazy things like this to get your VA clients, but I knew I would kick my own ass if I didn't try to meet her in person and show her how awesome I am in real life.
A combination of taking Be Booked Out and working with Maya Elious opened so many doors for me.
Seriously, so grateful.
The rite of passage
I know that this is a common story for a lot of freelancers and virtual assistants who have "made it."
Sure, I'll meet a unicorn who decided to be a virtual assistant and then magically started earning $50/hour right off the bat... but they are few and far in between.
I honestly think that this is a rite of passage.
I wish that it wasn't this way, but there are so many people trying to be virtual assistants these days (and they should! This is an amazingly rewarding career path.)
The problem is that a lot of people want that Instagram-perfect type of world and making thousands of dollars per month, without having any experience or having gotten their hands and knees dirty.
You can't work on the internet if you don't have an experience running a business on the internet.
You can't pin recipes and cute clothes on Pinterest and think you can create a Pinterest agency charging thousands of dollars for 1 service.
It's okay to not have the experience. It's not okay to pretend that you do.
The beginning SUCKS. It's hard. It feels like you're going to cry every day. You'll want to compare yourself. You'll wonder what is wrong with you (NOTHING!). You'll probably even get scammed a dozen times before you learn to get a contract.
Where I'm headed now
I think I still love coaching in a sense, but I'm not positive if I want to do one on one coaching. We'll see.
I know my main goal is to have 95% of my income be passive so I can focus solely on working with Maya.
I'm also running several blogs in different niches, because I love writing.
If I can be frank, I want to break six figures one day. I want to have enough money to retire my husband out of the military so he won't have to enlist again. I want to homeschool my kids or send them to private school. I want to homestead and have chickens with fluffy butts running around. I want cats. And goats. And my house to smell like hand crafted lemon poppyseed muffins. And I want to get up every day at 4am and wriiiiite because I want to, not because I am starving and need to bang out a story about Big Knockers so I can pay for 99 cent cup noodles. And I want to help women who suffer from depression to learn how to work from home and find a place of calm.
And that's my journey so far.