When you’re first starting out, the best place to look for clients is Upwork. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
You don’t change who you are. The key is finding your match. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Focus on what you provide, your experience, your skills, and what you bring to the table for that particular client. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Hi! You’re listening to episode number 76. Well, I am so glad that you’re listening to the podcast today. We have a listener question and I am excited to answer her question. When it came in, I knew right away it had to be shared on the show. I knew she wasn’t the only one with this question. So today is going to be an answer to a listener question.
But before I dive into that, I just want to share with you what’s going on with me and in my office, and I am really, really feeling good as I record this. I am sitting in not a new space, but a different space. I have been working on redecorating my office using things that I already have to get things situated. With doing three Facebook shows a week, I mean, my office was starting to look like a tornado came through with all the different changes for Monday and then for Tuesday, and never quite getting back to normal. It’s been like that for the past few months.
Yesterday I was sitting. I was done with my client work. For me, the weekend had officially started. But I was feeling heavy, and sometimes the heaviness has to do with our environment and what’s going on, and I just started praying to God because there are, you know, just a lot of different things going on. I just started praying and the next thing you know I’m in the kitchen washing dishes, cleaning up, and then I decided to go ahead and tackle the office.
What has been a stumbling block for me in the past as far as getting it all 100% straight, for now anyway, because I’m sure I’ll want to rearrange it as the New Year comes in, but I set – sometimes I’d go too high in regards to goals for myself. In other words, if I can’t do it all done in one day, in a short period of time, then it’s like, oh, what’s the point. I’ll wait until another time. But I gave myself grace and said, okay, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. It’s like I’ve got people that are coming into my office. Nobody comes in here. It’s just me and my husband in the house, and clients aren’t coming, you know, into the office. So why this pressure to get it done like now?
I gave myself permission if it’s just a corner at a time, a section at a time, to get things done, great. It’s progress. But to continue it every day until it’s done. I’m so excited. I got way more done between yesterday and this morning, and feeling really, really good about that. I’m just excited to get it, you know, move on to the next space and get that all set up.
The thing that’s most exciting is repurposing. I like to take something that is sold as one way and repurpose it as another. A while back I had got these really cute baskets at a yard sale and they were sitting on top of my refrigerator for the longest time, and then it came to me to use the baskets as a bookshelf, and I’ll have to share that picture again. I shared it on Facebook, oh gosh, I guess that’s probably been a couple years ago that I did that. But it was amazing how everybody responded to that. That idea just came to me to use those baskets as a bookshelf and I still use them and I still love it.
This time around – you see how long it’s taken me to get another idea to repurpose for decorating. It’s just not where my focus is. But I have three ottomans, little ottomans, like little cubes that I got at Walmart eight years ago. I bought these – I had a friend help me decorate my office. This is when I decided, oh, I’m going to have an office outside of the house in 2008. It must have been 2009 because things were going really well. It was the start of the business. I may have been six months in, maybe a little longer. It definitely was not a year.
When I started Virtual Hired Hand, I was living at home with my mom, so I would always look for other places to go to work. If you’ve tried working from home and maybe you are at home with your parents or you’ve got kids or a husband, somebody that’s there all day with you as well, when you first start out, oh my gosh, it was stressful. My mom’s retired so she was at home all day. I’m at home all day working. But it was stressful because it’s hard to tell your mom, “Hey, my office hours are this time,” or whatever, because I would break my own rules. There were times I would go talk to her, interrupt her stuff. She would do the same with me.
So I would go out on what I call “field trips,” whether it be to Starbucks or to the park or wherever to go work, and I thought about this the other day. I don’t do as much getting out in what I do in “field trips” as I call them, because I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m in my own space. Nobody’s home with me when I’m working, and it’s wonderful to have that quiet when you want, noise when you want, you know, you can set the environment how you want to.
So I bought these three ottomans way back when at the beginning stages of my business for this office I was going to have outside the home. That office lasted three months. I didn’t stay in it three months. I think I might have enjoyed it for maybe the first two weeks it was fun going to it. It was a place. Back then, co-working spaces weren’t the thing. It was more like a corporate office, but every individual office belonged to a different small business. That’s probably the best way to describe it because it wasn’t open. We didn’t see each other. You were closed off. There was no interaction.
You know, it was different getting out and just being able to do that, and I was excited about the freedom and excited about working for myself and being responsible for everything full-time. It was a mix of things in the process of that. But that whole office space wore off very quickly when it snowed one day. I think I moved in, in January, and then February it snowed a day and I stayed home, and then the next day did something, you know, I just stayed, stayed, stayed, and eventually decided I wasn’t going back and just cancelled it. It was like a month-to-month kind of thing.
That’s when I got these ottomans and they’ve been functioning as storage all this time. Just, you know, having whatever in them as storage. They’re cubes, but they weren’t used out in the open. You’d have to look down on the floor to see them. Anyway, I’m thinking of how am I going to do this office, and it came to me the idea to use these ottomans as I guess they’re kind of like shelves sitting on top of my desk. They’re open because they’ve got a little top, and I took the top off and put them on their side and put things inside of them.
Think about a shadow box. That’s probably the closest best description, and oh my gosh, they just make me so happy. [Laughs] I’m sitting in the opposite corner looking at them now and this is just – I needed a pick me up, a refresher, bringing new life and energy to my office space. Oh, it’s wonderful. I love it. I love it.
I’m saying all that to say if you are feeling blah – it doesn’t have anything to do with clients, it doesn’t have anything to do with your work, you’re just maybe sitting there like I was and like why am I feeling funky on a Friday? It was crazy, and it’s not always your hormones. It’s not always a mood, but it’s something. Do what you do to figure it out. I prayed and asked God, and I know if I asked a question because I don’t know what question I would have asked. I think I was just talking to him and just telling him how I’m feeling and what’s going on. Next thing you know, I’m moving, moving, moving, and so I am just so excited. You may even hear it in my voice, a higher level of energy in that.
Anyway, wanted to just share that with you because I’m so excited about it. So excited about it. It may appear on videos. I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know. [Laughs] I don’t know, but I wanted to share with you. I usually share fun things with you guys, and so that’s definitely something that I wanted to share. You may be experiencing those same things in your own office, or like, man, I was wondering why I was having a funk too. You just never know.
Let me pull up the question that came through on my Facebook page.
I want to make sure that I get her name right. I want to see what her name is on Facebook just to make sure I get it right, so let me pull that up. Here we go. Miriam Galo, and I hope I’m pronouncing her name correctly. But Miriam came to my page and asked me these questions and I’m going to read it exactly how she wrote it.
I am just curious as to how your company works? What type of model you use? Do you all look for clients in Upwork or what percentage should a ceo charge? I have so maaany questions, I recently started looking for assignments in Upwork but they pay so little 🙁 How can you amd your team make profit, this is all
So my response to her on the Facebook page was, of course, I thanked her for listening and stopping by my page, but this is what I shared with her:
Upwork doesn’t pay you, prospective clients on Upwork are how you get paid. The amount is based on your bid amount along with your experience, skills, whether it’s a match for both sides, etc. I’m sure you’re not the only one with these questions and I’ll go into more detail on the next podcast. Take a look at my 21 Day Upwork Challenge that may be helpful as well.
So this is the more detail for the podcast because, you know, when you ask me questions, I get excited about it because I don’t know where everyone is until you bring a question to me. Sometimes it’s very easy to – and this is how we are with our clients, so think about this. Because we’re into it so much, it’s hard to remember the beginning or what it was like when we didn’t know.
The questions your clients ask you is so helpful for you to remember and go back in time to where you were when you were at that same place and had those same questions trying to figure it all out. That’s why it makes great content for your blog post. That’s why it makes great content for this podcast is because 1) they’re not the only one with the question and 2) it gives you an opportunity to give even more value to their audience at the place they’re in right now.
Let’s go with the first question. She’s curious as to how my company works and what type of model we use. “Do you all look for clients in Upwork or what percentage should a ceo charge?” Let’s talk about how we work in regards to Upwork and how all these things play out.
When you’re first starting out, the best place to go to look for clients is on Upwork because that’s where people are who are looking for virtual assistants. This does not mean you don’t look other places. It doesn’t mean that you don’t share with people you already know, or networking events, or anywhere else online. It is one of the main places, but not the only place.
As I shared with Miriam on Facebook in regards to the rates, don’t worry about what other people are charging on Upwork. You know what you bring to the table. There’s a difference between someone who has 15 years executive administrative experience and someone who has 1 year of computer programming experience. Totally different thing so you can’t look at someone else’s rate and base yours off of theirs. You don’t know the history. You don’t know the backstory. You don’t know, just like they don’t know for you.
If you are looking at other people’s rates, it can make you wonder is this profitable because you see $8 an hour and $2 an hour and I’ll do 30 hours of work for $50. Yeah, it’s crazy, but I want you to focus on what you provide, your experience, your skills, and what you bring to the table for that particular client. That is so important so that you don’t lose focus. If I had looked at other people – and it’s fine to look at it just to see how this all works, just to get an idea, but don’t use it as a basis for your own rate.
I think I was participating in a VA conference and someone asked about the going rate for the industry. It goes from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, and if you’ve been on Upwork exploring, you’ve seen that. Upwork does not limit what rate you can charge on their platform. Just because someone is charging $5 an hour for their VA service does not mean on Upwork that you can’t charge $25 an hour for your service.
Again, it has to do with what you bring to the table and can you virtually communicate that in your writing? If you speak to the client on the phone or over Skype or whatever, are you able to communicate that? It’s no different than somebody that’s in front of you. Are you able to communicate what you bring, the value you bring to them, in the way you talk to them, what you’re sharing with them? Same thing. Same thing. Same thing. That’s how it works.
The reason why I like Upwork, long before I knew business coaches were recommending their clients go to Upwork, what I discovered early on is that you really just need that one ideal client, and in this sense, I’m meaning ideal to say the one client who will cheer you on. In other words, you do exceptional work for them and they shout out all that you’ve done for them that’s wonderful and amazing to everybody that they know. One person to be the cheerleader, one person to be your ambassador, who lets other people know how wonderful you are and sends them your way.
What I found was in referrals, most of the time, they’re going to send them directly to your email, because they’re going to ask, “Miriam, you’re doing such a great job for me. I shared it with my friend. How do you want her to communicate? Is it okay if I give her your email,” or whatever. Your client’s going to tell they gave you a referral and they may or may not ask you how you want them to communicate. They may send them to your Upwork profile, or they may just say, “I gave her your email,” or whatever. They may ask you how you want them to contact you.
For me, all the referrals from my clients – Upwork was Elance then. All the referrals came directly via email. When Upwork came on the scene, the referrals I got came through email. Even though I met the one ideal client on Upwork, when they told their friends, their friends didn’t want to set up an Upwork profile. Keep in mind, for someone to put their job description on Upwork and do all these things, they have to create a profile just like we do. If their friend is saying, “Hey, I’ve got this great VA, Miriam. She does this and she does that.” “Well, how can I get in touch with her?”
Well, that person is not going to say, you know, “Here’s the link to Upwork,” and then they learn they’ve got to create a profile and all this stuff. No, they want to get directly to her. “Well, does she have an email? Does she have a website?” You know, “How can I contact her?” That’s why most likely it’s going to be email, because it’s easier. It’s easier to get in touch with you via your email address, especially when it’s a referral.
What rate is acceptable is on a case-by-case basis.
Again, has to do with the value you bring to the customer, and if the potential client sees it as valuable. Once you know the value you bring, you’re looking for a client who matches and understands, yes, that is valuable. Yes, that rate makes sense. That’s the match you’re looking for. The ones who are like, “Oh, that’s too high,” and you might not hear them say that, but they may see it because they see your bid and all your information and stuff. If they’re saying it’s too high, guess what, it’s not a match. It’s not a match.
When you go into Nordstrom, what rate are you looking to pay for a suit? Is it the T.J. Maxx rate or Nordstrom? Is it Target? You know there’s a price range at Target versus a price range at Nordstrom. I don’t know why I said suit. I haven’t bought a suit in forever. [Laughs] But anyway, you get my point. If someone is looking for Walmart price and they walk into Nordstrom, you’re in the wrong place.
Now, on the flipside of that, if someone is walking into Walmart looking for a Nordstrom rate, they’re in the wrong place. It just depends on what they see valuable at the time, but you don’t change who you are. Walmart doesn’t try to be Nordstrom. Nordstrom doesn’t try to be Walmart.
You don’t change who you are. The key is finding your match.
Let’s see, what else? Here’s the other thing. The name of this podcast is The Business of Being a Virtual Assistant. I always some kind of way, even in the titles and different things I say, make sure that I say “Virtual Assistant Business Owner.” The reason why I stress that is because for some reason in this industry people are not thinking of themselves as business owners. We’re looking for jobs and that bothers me.
If you’re looking for a job, you’re not a business owner.
The clients on the other end of Upwork, they have projects and they’re outsourcing it to you. They’re not hiring you for a job. If someone is confused by that on Upwork, and it could easily happen where somebody is confused and they’re looking to hire someone for a job, if that is the type language that they’re using, “job,” “resume,” “employee,” that’s not ideal fit. Because if you’re a business owner and you see “job” and you see they want “resume” and they’re saying “employee,” or whatever terms they’re using that you get the feel they’re looking for an employee, for me personally, that’s not a match. I’m a business owner. That’s not a match. I move on to something to else. I don’t even waste my time with that.
If you follow all of that, that’s how you make a profit. That’s how you make a profit.
In my 21 Day Upwork Challenge, I go through training you on how to set up your profile, how to submit your bids, what to say, and what to do over a course of 21 Days. Now, in the challenge, you don’t have to go through it one day at a time. You can take one day; take a weekend, whatever it is, to go through everything. But if you go through that information and put it all to action on Upwork, you will make a profit.
The money you spend, you invest in yourself in that course, will come back to you, you know, way more. You’ll get double if you’re doing what’s in that 21 Day Upwork Challenge. You may even get to the point that because you now have so much client work maybe you have to decrease the number of proposals. Not totally go out to zero, but maybe you decided to do five a day and you’re getting so many projects you’ve got to take it down to maybe sending out five proposals a week or three days or whatever the case may be.
Anyway, the takeaway for this particular episode is 1) put on your business hat. You are a business owner. Upwork is not a marketplace for jobs. Okay. Put on your business hat. You’re a business owner. Aren’t you responsible for your own taxes and your own health insurance, your own software, office space, equipment, everything, right? You’re responsible for all this stuff. Take ownership.
You are a business owner. Take ownership.
It doesn’t matter whether your company name has Inc. behind it or LLC behind it. Does not matter. You are a business owner. In regards to that, since I brought it up, consult with your accountant in regards to what fits you best, because if you aren’t making money right now it does not make sense to be an S corporation or an Inc. There’s a reason why there are different levels. Maybe you’re just sole proprietor for right now. There’s a reason they have the different levels, and consult with your accountant on that.
The accountant I work with, I found her on Dave Ramsey’s website. She’s amazing. I have been trying to do my own taxes forever, and once I started Virtual Hired Hand it just got messy. Not because of this, but some other stuff as well. When you’ve been trying to do your own taxes for a while and that’s not your deal, you know, God did not wire me to do taxes, so now I’m just so grateful for them.
We filed an extension this year and recently we got it all situated for 2015. Woo, I feel so good. My goal for 2016 tax year is not to file and extension, to be ready to go January 30th because that’s when, I think, all the 1099 forms and all that stuff have to go out, and you’ll start getting 1099 forms from your clients and whatnot, but anyway, to be ahead of the game on that.
I hope this episode was helpful. I’m pretty sure it’s helpful, to not just Miriam, but other people as well listening to this episode. Now, if that brought up more questions, that is fantastic. I want you to bring your questions to me. If you have more questions, you know where to find me to post your question.
The first thing to do, if you have not already done so, is go check out the 21 Day Upwork Challenge Course. I challenge you to get that course on my website: TiffanyParson.com. You click on Courses. You will see it’s the first one. Get some more information on that. Get signed up. Dive into the course.
It’s an on-demand training course and it includes my personal 100% money-back guarantee. If within 30 days of purchasing, you don’t find the content useful for your virtual assistant business, simply contact us, and we’ll promptly refund you. We’re not going to ask you any questions about it. You know, sometimes you buy stuff and it doesn’t work for you, or maybe you didn’t work it. I don’t know. We’re not going to ask you questions.
Don’t delay. Go ahead and start building your rock-solid virtual assistant business today by attracting and landing clients you love, and who will pay you well to do the work you enjoy.
You have a fabulous day, and I look forward to our time together next week.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time!