- 21 Day Upwork Challenge
It does not hurt to give something a shot. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
People need all kinds of services and they’re waiting for you. #vatipGotta Tweet!
There is no right or wrong skill to pick. It’s a matter of starting.
#vatip Gotta Tweet!
A question came in recently and I thought it would be perfect to talk about on a podcast episode. I felt like there are many of you with this exact same question, so we’re going to dive in today.
Let me tell you what the question is. This is from Indira. Hi, Indira. Thank you so much for sending in your question. It says, “I just finished hearing your podcast about what’s holding you back from getting started. I have listened to you for some time, searching on Internet, and reading some books, but I still don’t know if I have the skill to be a virtual assistant. What is your advice?
Well, here is the thing. If you are currently working a job, any job, the same thing that you’re providing on your job is exactly what you could provide to someone as a virtual assistant. Let me give you some examples. Let’s say you are a customer service rep; you are a receptionist. You do anything where you have to speak with people on the phone. Let’s use that as an example. Well, there are people who need someone to make warm or cold calls to people. It could be to confirm appointments, and you could be confirming appointments for coaches. It could be for local businesses. However you want to approach it, it’s totally up to you.
If you want to do this for coaches, then you know where I’m going to tell you to go, Upwork.com and do a search for who is looking for someone to make phone calls. If you go to Upwork.com, click on Browse, and browse will let you look through the different categories. Let’s go ahead, let’s go to a category that fits. I’m going to type in “phone calls” and see what comes up. Let’s do cold calling. Let’s see what happens if we do that. Well, when I type in “cold calling,” it brings up all these different skills, and it brings up skills that aren’t just related to the phone.
*Related services when you type cold calling in Upwork:
All of that is related to cold calling. If you aren’t sure, for example, if you saw phone support and you’re like, well, what all does that involve? You click on Phone Support and then browse through. What happens is it’s actually going to pull up freelancers that provide this service.
Here’s the thing. If you are not currently registered for Upwork, get registered because at this point the only thing we can do from the outside is browse freelancers. Well, you are the freelancer, so you’re not looking for yourself, so log in. Get inside of Upwork and do that same search.
It used to be on Elance – just so you guys know, May 30th is the last day for Elance, so I’m going to make sure I am saying Upwork for everything. Okay, once you log in to your Upwork account, it lets you search jobs. You have to be logged in order to search. So from there, go ahead and start searching. What did we do? Cold calls, searching cold calls.
All right, there are over 1,500 jobs that fit under this category. There are all kinds of people looking for something. There’s a virtual assistant for real estate. What do they want you to do? They want you to follow-up with warm homeowner leads, pre-screen homeowners who respond to marketing (so those would be warm calls), set up appointments, document phone conversations, make cold calls to homeowners, and then they list some things that they like for you to have some experience with. That is an example. Make phone calls to specific businesses and form about new free listing website.
Appointment setting – there are all kinds of things here for you to browse. Now, granted, everything will not fit you. It may not be your rate. Maybe you don’t have any experience with the tool that it is, but the skill in particular is cold calling. If you are professional, if you are comfortable with this, then this would be ideal to look through to see which one of these you would be interested in and give it a shot.
It does not hurt to give something a shot, right? When you apply, if you find out down the road it’s not for you, you can not accept it. It’s okay. It is okay.
All right, let’s think of another skill. Let’s say that you are working in retail and you work at a store. You’re in retail, been doing that for a while. You want to get out of it. What skill do you have if you’ve been working in retail? Well, you’ve done sales. You have worked with people. Maybe you coordinated schedules. Look at what you’re doing on your job. It’s not going to be an exact match. There’s no retail store online. Of course, we have ecommerce and things like that, but it’s not going to be an exact match. I want you to dig into what exactly are you doing?
For example, when we were talking about cold calls, it had Excel on that sheet. Why, because you may have a list of names and numbers in an Excel spreadsheet and you need to be comfortable with inputting notes and information into an Excel spreadsheet, if that’s how they want you to do it.
Think about what skill you’re doing now.
Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, you’ve got all kinds of skills that you’re using every single day – calendar management, time management. There’s somebody out there that needs someone else to help them stay on task, help them be on time, help them with their calendar. Let them know where they need to be, what they need to do, remind them of deadlines. There’s somebody out there like that, and that could fall under executive assistant.
Let me type in “executive assistant” here and see what we get. These are things that you can just do for fun. I just logged into my account and I’m just typing in the item that I’m looking for, and for it to bring it up. If the wording is not exact, how you’re looking for it, try something else. It’s like doing a Google search. Just try something else to see.
If you’re like, “Well, Tiffany, I don’t even know where to start as far as even thinking up these things,” then what you can do is go under category. Category is under that same job search page. Under category, go down to admin support, customer service. Pick one of those and just explore. Okay. Pick one of those and explore.
Don’t think you don’t have something that someone else is looking for. Don’t think that. People need all kinds of services and they’re waiting for you.
Think about the things you do every single day. If you had to describe it to your mom – mom is perfect example of having to describe something because we have to keep it simple for her, because if you start speaking in all this jargon and acronyms and stuff like that, she has no clue what you’re talking about. When you think about explaining something to mom, this means we’re going to keep it very simple so she can understand. Why, because she doesn’t work in the environment that we work. She doesn’t work where we work. It’s like I don’t work where you work, so if you start speaking the way you all talk at your job, I’m going to be looking at you like what? I may know exactly what you’re saying when you lay it out to me in basic terms.
Don’t be afraid, and another thing too is thinking that there’s a right or wrong in regards to the skill that we pick. There is no right or wrong. It’s a matter of starting.
When I started, I didn’t know about searching anything. I would just go under the category and read every single thing under the category. Does that sound good? Does it sound like I could do it? Okay, here’s my information, and go from there. That’s what you may have to do until you have your skills narrowed down to what you enjoy the most. So definitely don’t think you don’t have the skill, and not that this is the case for the person that sent me the question.
But if that’s you listening and you’re like, “Hmm, I’m not sure, Tiffany,” let me give you another example. Let me think of something else that’s not so obvious. I think mine may have been more obvious because I was a programmer and that’s computer. I like giving you the previous examples with the sales rep and the receptionist, customer service.
Clearly, if you’re an executive assistant somewhere, everything you do going into your job, somebody needs that service virtually, every single thing that you’re doing – PowerPoint presentations, calendar management, travel, all that stuff, they need it.
I can remember doing a project where I was printing off letters and mailing the letters. This wasn’t one of those scams in the paper that you see where you – I forget how it used to work, where you put the pre-stamp on the envelope. It was something funky you had to do with envelopes and stamps. I remember it used to be in our college paper all the time that you could earn money that way. That’s not what I mean. This was actually a real person. I actually talked to him on the phone and discussed what he needed, so that’s not what I’m referring to.
Okay, so let me think of another example that may not be so obvious. Let’s say you are a teacher. You are a math teacher, science teacher, or an English teacher. Those skills to be able to teach somebody else, you know, someone may be looking for a tutor on here in Upwork. Did you think about that? Somebody may be looking for a tutor.
I typed in “tutor.” This is what I got – English online teacher, IB physics tutor. Let’s see here. I’m not sure what a reasoning tutor is, but if you teach reasoning then you know. Oh, it’s mathematics, reasoning tutor.
Even though we’re thinking virtual assistant does admin, no, virtual assistant is somebody who’s assisting you virtually.
It’s not just the administrative side of things. I’m going to tell you, I didn’t pre-type in tutor. It was just a shot to take a chance while I’m recording this live, and you know I don’t do a whole lot of edits and stops and starts and all that stuff in the podcast because I want you to feel like we’re sitting here over a cup of coffee, talking.
There’s an elementary math tutor in need, Filipino High School Physics Teachers. Let me see, what else? How many jobs under tutor? 64 jobs listed under tutor. I just typed in “tutor.” Perfect example of using a skill you have already in your current job and transferring it over to someone online.
Also, in the process of looking up tutor, there’s a job that says, “Billing Assistant / Invoice Creation. I need someone who will take hours worked from a central spreadsheet once a week, sort it by tutors, send an email to the tutor to verify the hours, and then send me the final invoices.” So you may find some projects that have the word in it, that aren’t necessarily looking for that. It has the word “tutor” in it, but it’s looking for a billing assistant.
Billing assistant, somebody that’s really good in spreadsheets. Here’s an example of a skill that you can provide to a client. The skill for a VA, I was going to say there is no one set skill. The thing is bring with you confidence that you can do what it is that you say you can do. Availability – making sure that you’re available to do it.
Be responsive. If the client contacts you, respond back. It doesn’t have to be as soon as they hit send, you’re sending the email response right back. You don’t have to put yourself under that pressure. For example, if you get an email on Saturday, respond on Monday. You can respond on Saturday if you want to, but don’t feel pressured to. Anybody that makes you feel pressured because you didn’t respond as soon as they hit send, they’re bringing that issue to you. Then you get to decide. Is that somebody I want to work with, somebody who’s not reasonable? No, that’s a red flag and you want to run the other way from the red flag.
If you’re listening to this podcast, you have the skill to be a VA.
If you’re not sure, I want to know what your job is and we’re going to talk about that and break it down as far as what you can do, if you’re like, I’m still not sure. I don’t know what I can provide.
One job that came to my mind was a cook. Let’s say you’re a cook, wherever, in a restaurant, at your house, wherever. You’re a cook. Well, usually cooks are familiar with recipes, and there may be someone who needs something in relation to cooking or recipes. I’m going to type in “recipes.” They may want you to research recipes.
Ah, look at this. Okay, I typed in “recipes.” The first thing that comes up – Administrative Assistant – this is the description: “Looking for admin to complete meal plans using Evolution Nutrition software. This will require adding recipes, making sure the macros are correct, adding supplements. All the information for the client, their meals and recipes will be provided. We are only needing someone to enter the information into the system.” They’re going to give you the system. They just need someone to enter the information, so data entry.
Here’s the basic thing: being willing to hop on your computer and research, being willing to hop on your computer and explore what’s out there.
If you’re interested in just doing something completely different, let’s say you are a cook, but you want to write. There are people out there that are looking for ghostwriters, that may be looking for someone to write a cookbook as a ghostwriter who’s familiar with cooking, who’s familiar with how recipes work, who’s familiar with different ingredients or the best websites or the best resources or the best stores, because all of that information would fit really nicely in an eBook.
That’s how something that you’re doing could transfer over to something completely differently, so it doesn’t have to be a perfect match. It could be something that you haven’t even thought about to use as a match, because you understand what that all entails.
If you’re a travel agent, maybe you don’t want to help people in planning their travel. But again, going to writing, maybe you want to write about it instead of helping them set it up.
Think outside the box. Once you get in here and you start digging around, ideas will come to you in addition to what you find on Upwork.
Let me share with you the difference between services you provide on Upwork and services you provide on your own website. On Upwork, these are things that are already there. The clients are sitting there. They’re waiting on the right person, and you may be the right person. They won’t know until you bring yourself to their attention.
You may do this writing service on Upwork, but you may be using that to see if it’s something you really want to get into and dive deep, meaning have multiple clients ongoing, regular, on and on and on. Use Upwork to get experience, to get a taste, to see how you like it. Get three to five projects under your belt doing that one thing so you know whether you like it or not. By the third one, you’re going to know whether you like it or not. But you have to submit a lot of proposals to get your good three to five. Once you know for sure, that’s something you want to add on your website. If it’s something you’re testing, you don’t add it to your website yet. Because the people who are not on Upwork, where are you sending them? You’re not going to send them to your profile on Upwork.
If someone sees you on Facebook and they’re interested in your service and they say, “Well, what do you offer?” What do you offer? You’re sending them to your website. You’re not going to send them to Upwork. Why? Because you’re asking then to learn a new tool just to find out the services that you provide, but if you send them to the services page on your website and it lists what you do, hey, easy enough. But you send them to Upwork, it’s like they’re going to get lost and they might end up running into another freelancer. You don’t know, so you send them to your website.
The things that you do on Upwork is a tester to see if this is something I really want to do. If it is, then you put it on your website, and you continue to do both. You continue to submit your proposals on Upwork as well as work with clients who are not on Upwork. That’s something we could dive into another day, maybe on a webinar or something like that. If there’s enough interest, we can get a webinar together and talk about that even more.
All right. I think I have given you a pretty clear picture about skill. I think I’ve given you a pretty good picture. Let me share one thing that comes to my mind. Oh, yeah, you’re doing Facebook for your personal fun. You may be doing Pinterest for your personal fun. Guess what? There are people who need those services. They need you to do what you’re doing for fun for yourself. They need you to do it for them, for their business. You enjoy adding boards on Pinterest, getting them organized, setting them up, maybe adding the images to Pinterest and maybe creating the images. I don’t know what all would be involved for you. Whatever it is, somebody’s looking for that thing.
If you don’t want to use the skills from your job, use the things that you do when nobody’s looking, when you think nobody cares, when you’re having your downtime, when you know you’re not being paid. If it’s something that you would like to do for more than just yourself, look it up. Who’s in need of it? Who wants it? Who’s looking for it?
There are people that are in direct sales, and I’ve talked about my direct sales business before. There are a lot of mailings that go out. There are calls that people do. There’s different packets put together, all these things. Maybe that’s something you enjoy doing and would like to provide for people that you know that are in direct sales. See if there’s anybody on Upwork looking for that.
Let’s type in “direct sales.” You’re going to come up with a lot of different things here, so you might need to change up the name or whatever. Let’s see. Yeah, you might have to change up the name for direct sales and see what’s out there – party planning, MLM, whatever, network marketing, something like that.
Oh, this is fun. I typed in “party planning” and I got “VA for cocktail party planning events – social media management, event planning, research and reservations.” So if you like to plan events, somebody may be looking for you. You know you can plan events and don’t have to be in the same physical location as a person you’re planning the event for. It depends on what their needs are, so explore that.
Now, at the top of the episode I said we’re going to talk about your services, which is everything I’ve discussed already, and your preparedness. Once you’ve gone through this and you’re doing your research, you’re going to find some things that you’re like, yeah, I want to submit my proposal for that. I’m very interested.
Are you prepared? If you sent your information, are you prepared? Are you prepared for what comes after that? You want to be prepared and making sure that if they say, “Yes, I want you,” you’re ready to go. You’ve got your PayPal account. If you’re using Upwork, it’s already got a built in invoicing system. If it’s outside of Upwork, maybe somebody from your website or from Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, is PayPal ready? Is the invoicing system ready?
If you all need to schedule a meeting, do you have a calendar system set up so they can easily schedule an appointment to get in contact with you? Do you have a phone number other than your personal phone lines to use so that you could have a business call on a business line? Do you have it already slotted in your regular schedule to do a project like this? In other words, do you have time? Those are examples of preparedness.
Are you prepared for that client to say yes and to come on board?
Do you know what rate you would charge if they say, “Well, how much is this?” When it comes to rates you don’t have to know right away because there may be more details involved. You need to get the whole picture and then you can give a rate. It’s something to think about in addition to providing those services and being prepared.
You’re not going to know all the answers up front. You won’t have everything up front. You may just have the calendar on your phone and have to look at that and go from there, and that is fine. There is no right or wrong.
You’re building your VA business as you go. You’re building your VA business as you grow. It is forever evolving and changing. You’re molding it and shaping it into how you want it to look, because it’s your business.
Thank you again, Indira, for your question. I love hearing from you guys. Send me a message on Twitter. Let me know you’re listening on Facebook. Send me an email. Let me know.
I’m going to look into some other things. We’ve got a 21 Day Upwork Challenge coming up. I’ll start opening registration for that in May. While you guys are exploring, you’ll know what to do in regards to your profiles and what to say and how to market yourself using Upwork, so you can have some knowledge behind that. If you go to the website right now, tiffanyparson.com, and click on Events, you’ll see the 21 Day Upwork Challenge, and hop on the wait list to make sure you don’t miss it. That is one way to make sure that you don’t miss it.
As always, I want to thank you so much for listening to the episode. Continue in your business. Move forward. Step out and try out a skill that you already are using currently on your job or for yourself.
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!