Clients are looking for you to be reliable, informed, and resourceful. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Do something with the information you’ve been researching. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
You cannot lose. Even with the bumps, you learn every single time. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Hi and welcome to The Business of Being a Virtual Assistant. I’m your host, Tiffany Parson, and this is episode number 102.
Now, recently, I sent out a survey to my VIP list asking them questions about their virtual assistant business, whether they’ve gotten started or not started yet. If you have not done the survey or you’re not even on the VIP list, I’m going to put in the show notes a link to get to that survey so you can complete the survey. If you’re on the website getting the show notes, then go ahead and sign up for some free training and that will automatically put you on the VIP list.
Now, onto today’s topic. It’s really what started me in doing the survey in the first place, and that was to find out exactly where you in your business. I think it was a couple of weeks ago, I saw two different job notices and they were sent through an email newsletter that I’m a part of. It was a particular blogger, has two virtual positions available. They didn’t call it virtual assistant. They called it something else and I’m not remembering exactly, but like marketing assistant or something to that effect. But, basically, it was a role for a virtual assistant.
You’ll find that clients will call you different things based on the service that you provide for them, which is totally cool.
But the thing that got me was the job descriptions were perfect. I loved the way everything was outlined, and I use things like that to know how clients are wording and phrasing things. Also, to know what software they’re using and whether or not I am keeping up with the software that the majority of people are using.
But what got me was that I don’t know anyone personally to send that information to. It was very specific to having an understanding about webinars and how that flows, as well marketing going from the sign up to receiving those emails. They were looking for someone to be a part of that and set that up for them as well as be a support and be able to answer technical questions and things like that.
Now, both of them were perfect for me. However, I don’t have the capacity right now to do that. I tell you, for the past, I don’t know, it’s something that comes off and on in deciding the approach and next step for my own business, Virtual Hired Hand, and how do I want to do it, if I want to build and have subcontractors or continue as I am.
These two, you know, opportunities just made me think even more about it and then even wonder where are you? My listeners, my viewers, those on my VIP list, like where are you in your business that I could even let you know what’s going on? Now, I don’t know the blogger specifically. I have had people contact me directly looking for virtual assistants and when that happens, I’m happy to share that information on my email list. I let them to know that I’ll, you know, that I can share it with my email list and then let someone respond from there. But it would just be awesome to know someone personally and direct them from there.
Another thing that happened is that a client that I’ve been working with since forever, it seems, I think it’s been like 2010, and she asked me if I knew anybody that provided the service that I do because she’s looking to, you know, build out her virtual team, and I don’t know anybody.
All week, I’ve been wrestling with this whole thing about, gosh, I don’t know anybody that does what I do. So I sent out the survey to find out, to look for you, and what got me was the responses I got back. There are a good number of you, this is those who have filled out the survey, that have not gotten started yet.
Really, before I even sent out the survey, this was the impression that I got based on the questions that I get asked and emails and things like that, is that those who find this podcast are in the research phase. You’re trying to figure out either what a virtual assistant is, what service you can provide, or just wanting to know somebody that does something that you’re interested in.
I know the biggest thing that is holding you back is being afraid to step out and do it.
In thinking of today’s topic, that, I couldn’t let it go, the whole fear thing. I’ve probably touched on it in several different episodes, but I don’t know if I’ve really painted a picture clearly enough to help you in that. So that’s what I would like to do and talk to you about today.
This is what I want you to think about. What if you jumped? What does jumping look like for you?
Jumping, I mean starting your virtual assistant business. What do I mean when I say start your virtual assistant business? I mean put out your virtual sign that you are offering this particular service, one service. Letting people know you’re offering this one service. This is the virtual sign, so letting people know you’re offering this one service, no matter it is. You know what the one service is.
Those of you that are still on the sidelines doing your research, trying to figure out, you know, it’s like being on the side of the pool wondering, okay, do I start on the deep end or the shallow end? What’s the best way? Well, when you’re learning how to swim, you go to the shallow end. In our sense, the shallow end is one client, right? Taking that leap, putting your virtual sign out. I’m offering this service. You get your one client, whatever service you’re offering. Now, you can get a feel of how this works.
Jumping out there, putting your sign up does not mean quitting your job. It doesn’t mean any of that at all. It means adding to what you’re already doing.
I’m going to use a social media virtual assistant as an example. You want to help people schedule their social media, schedule their Facebook, their Twitter, their Instagram, their Pinterest, their LinkedIn, whatever social media platform they need you to help them schedule.
Does that sound scary just the thought of maybe putting your virtual sign up or is it scary that someone actually responds and says their interested? Is it scary once you’ve scheduled an appointment with them? Maybe they want a phone call or they send you an email and want to know more details? Is it scary trying to figure out your rate, what you’re going to tell them your rate is?
Each step there, could cause you some anxiety. I don’t know. Let’s talk it through that whole process. Again, I’m using the social media VA as an example. It doesn’t matter what your service is. You put in your service in this example. The sign we put out is that we do social media scheduling for busy coaches.
You get your first inquiry. Maybe you put it on your Facebook page and someone says, “I’m interested. Where can I get more information?” That means you need to have somewhere to direct them to where they can get more information? Where would that place be? On your website, and that page should answer that question about more information. What could more information include? What is the service that you provide? What are the social media platforms? How did they get started at working with you? What are those steps? What does that look like?
You could do it in words on your page. You could do it in video on that page. You could do a mix of both. If you’ve been a VA for a long time, it may be time to freshen up some of those pages. I’ve got some pages I need to freshen up because they were great two years ago, but now with video coming on, people want to see who they’re working with. Not just see with pictures, but maybe they want you to show them how it works. That’s what you could do in the video. You be in the video as well, but also maybe share your desktop and kind of show how it works.
Okay, so you’ve directed them to the page. They have signed up. They clicked the button to sign on for your service. They are registered. What do you do now? It might be a good idea to set up a call with them to talk to them about the specifics, which social media platforms they would like for you to provide the service. Find out how many posts they want you to schedule a day.
Decide what do you want the setup to look like? If the client had no clue or they wanted to know what your thoughts are, what are your recommendations? Always have that in your side pocket, what your recommendations are, what your ideal setup would be.
For that client that maybe they’re just getting into having a virtual assistant, this is their first time with you, they’ve been doing their own social media, it’s haphazard, they don’t have a set format, but they come to you and they, “What is your recommendation?” Have a recommendation ready. This will take away some of the anxiety and fear because you’ve got it mapped out if they ask. They might already have a set way that they do it, and they’ll explain that to you and then you go from there.
What clients are looking for is, obviously, that you know your stuff.
You know how to do what you say you’re going to do. They’re looking for you to be reliable, you to be informed, you to be resourceful. They need you to be an extra arm for them so that they can, in a sense, multitask behind the scenes. While they’re coaching clients, their Facebook is being scheduled or their Twitter is being scheduled. Things are going out nicely. That should take some fear away initially.
Now, let’s go back to the beginning where you put your sign out that you’re offering this service. Is it the fear that someone from work is going to see that you’re offering this service? Now, let’s think about that. What is the likelihood that your coworker is going to see what you’re posting on your Facebook page, business page for your virtual assistant business? Slim. Now, let’s just say maybe they’re your friend at work and they follow your business page because maybe you invited them to follow your page and now they see, “Oh, she’s offering social media services. What about her job?” You know, at the insurance company or at the hospital or wherever.
Now, we know it’s none of their business and, obviously, you wouldn’t be providing something that is going to interfere with your full-time job. But if that’s what you’re afraid of, a coworker is going to see it, so what. Let them see it. Anybody that would say something to you about it is just because they’re not willing to jump out and do something that they’ve dreamed of or always wanted to do. Don’t be afraid of somebody from the job seeing what you do. Who knows? The person that sees it might actually have their own side thing going on too and they need your service. You won’t know until you put it out there.
I can remember when I was starting. It was my first week of being full-time and it just happened to coincide with the largest invoice I had ever sent to my client. Your clients know when their invoices are going to be higher. This is when I charged an hourly rate. They were sending me more work so they knew then that would, you know, require more hours. So I don’t know why I was afraid, and I don’t think the invoice at $300. It was almost $300. But I was scared to send it to them, y’all, and, you know, it was silly. They knew what work they were sending me. They knew that the hours would be more. I sent it. There was no problem whatsoever, got paid. I was like whew, you know, just nervous.
A lot of times, things are happening for the very first time, you’re going to be nervous about it.
I was nervous when I sent the first invoice to them that was over $1,000. Again, they knew they were giving me more work, more responsibility. It was going to be a higher rate, dah, dah, dah, and when I sent the first invoice that was over $1,000, that made me nervous. But after it happened, and it happened the next month and the next month, I didn’t even blink. Now, I don’t blink. That’s what the rate is, you know, that’s what the invoice is. That’s what it is.
The final question on the survey is I think I said like if there’s a question you want to ask me, you know, put it in there, however I worded it. But this makes me think about one of the responses about a client cancelling this particular VAs contract because their rates were too high. Well, that is the client’s prerogative if they decide to cancel because your rates are too high. But my question to that would be, you know, did you start out with a low rate and then switch to a high rate? When we charge a client a certain thing and then we switch it on them, that could be a problem if there’s not enough time for them to adjust.
I had a VA that used to transcribe things for me. I can’t, yeah, she was transcribing, and it was like overnight she changed what her rate was going to be. We had one agreement and then she told me that she was moving to this new structure and the rate was going to be, I don’t know, it was something crazy like $500 a month. I can’t remember the exact amount. That was like in 2008, and we hadn’t been working together long, maybe a few months.
She was giving me a couple of weeks or so before we’re going to start this new plan. Well, no, I wouldn’t treat a client like that. That’s not how I operate and I really did not understand that switch in such a short amount of time, and for the same thing we had already agreed on a lower rate, lower than whatever it was she was saying for the month. It was something crazy like $500 a month.
My workload didn’t increase, but her rate was increasing like, I don’t know, it just seemed like a lot. I don’t even remember what our agreement was. It wasn’t anywhere close to that, and so I ended our project immediately. I ended it immediately because, you know, I could sacrifice until I found another person and move forward from there.
It was a number of things: her rate increase within a short amount of time, our workload didn’t increase. I got the feeling she was all about the money versus serving. I get wanting to make more, wanting to increase your rate. I’m all for that. But this was just ridiculous. The funny part is I don’t know if you’re part of any virtual assistant forums, but if you are, you might want to check to see if those forums are searchable in Google.
Because I was doing some research for the podcast at the time and I was researching, you know, virtual assistants or whatever and I found her comments in a VA group where she was talking about me and this whole situation. It was very interesting. She didn’t use names, but I knew it was her and I knew she was talking about me because it just happened around the same time. So make sure when you’re in forums or even on Facebook groups, I don’t answer or comment when it’s a public forum, especially if you’re going to be griping about somebody. But anyway, that’s a whole side note.
But anyway, back to the response in the survey. I don’t know what the circumstances were. But if your rates are higher at the beginning and someone is telling you, “Oh, your rates are too high.” It’s no big deal. They’re just not your client. But if you start out low and then you want to go higher on them in a short period of time, yes, I could see how that would be a problem. I’ve experienced that myself, so that is just going to depend on the circumstance.
Some people are just looking for a $2 an hour VA and that is not you. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re watching, you’re regular, you know I have talked about this before. We are not competing with the $2 an hour VAs. No way, no how, uh-uh.
I just read something recently about a really good VA that’s been doing their business for a while, will not charge a rate higher than $30 an hour. Now, that’s going to depend on what your services are and how long you’ve been doing it. But I saw this recently. It was not a virtual assistant blog. It was, gosh, I can’t remember if it was on the Forbes or Business Insider or what have you, but that was the amount. It was talking about, encouraging people to outsource with virtual assistants and why you should, and how a really good one, it’s going to cost, but is worth every dollar. Anyway, I thought, yay, for VAs, you know.
But anyway, I’m saying all this to say don’t be afraid. Just go ahead and get out there. You will hit a bump. I guarantee you, you’re going to hit a bump. It’s going to happen, whether you go afraid or not afraid. You will run into a bump.
One of my Elance clients, you know, back in the day Elance was Upwork and then Elance and oDesk merged. Now, they’re Upwork. But Elance, I had a nightmare client on Elance. Their project was, you know, they described it one way. It was like a bait and switch, and it was taking forever. I was like this is just not working out. Every time I would get a message from this client, I got a bad feeling every single time. It was crazy because that hadn’t happened before where I got a bad feeling through email.
So I cancelled the project. I was like, you know, “We’re done. This is it,” you know, “I can’t finish this”. I cancelled it. I was like, “You don’t even have to pay me.” I just want to be done with it. What can you say? The client couldn’t say anything because they know they bait and switched. They knew what they were doing, and you can’t really complain if somebody is like, “We’re even. Don’t even worry about paying me for the time spent.” That’s how bad it was. It’s the only time I ever had to do that.
But it happens. You’re going to hit a bump, and you will have people that have never worked with VAs, so they’re looking to you to guide them, even if they’re your first client. I never told my first client, “You’re my first client.” I never told them that. You work a job somewhere; you’ve worked with people before. If you’ve done customer service, you’ve had to interact with somebody else, you’ve done it before. It just was not in a virtual sense, so your first client is not necessarily your very first client. It’s not like your very first job. It’s totally different.
So just, you know, relax. It is not life or death. It is not like saying, “Oh, I’m going to go skydiving.” Skydiving is not on my list. I can see a video of somebody skydiving and I feel nervous for them to jump out the plane. This is not that. There will be a bump. It’s going to happen, and you will live to share the story about what happened.
Don’t be afraid. Just go ahead and do it.
If you’ve listened to over six episodes of this podcast and you know starting a virtual assistant business is what you want to do, you know you want to help people part-time, you know you want to do it full-time, whichever way it is, start now. Do not listen to another episode of this podcast if you’re still on the fence, because the more information I give you, the more I share, it’s just going to add more noise and more noise and more noise to whatever is going on in your head because you’re probably researching and listening and researching and listening. If you don’t ever do anything, you’re going to be constipated with that information.
Years ago, I did this podcast, gosh, I can’t remember what it was called. But I’m going to link it up in the show notes about that very thing, being overloaded with information and not doing anything. You have to do something with that information. You have to. It’s going to drive you nuts if you don’t. You’re just going to be replaying it over and over in your head until you get it done.
Now, I want you to come over to my Facebook page and share with me your question or comment about this particular episode. Your fears, whatever is going on with you in regards to what is stopping you from starting your virtual assistant business. I don’t want you to spend another day, another week, another month contemplating whether you should start or not.
There are people that are looking for you.
I am tired of people asking me if I know someone, and sadly, I’m having to say “no” because people are afraid to get started. I’ve been doing this since 2008. It does not look like it did in 2008, and there’s going to be another shift for 2018. Where that’s going to go, how it’s going to work, I don’t know, but I have a general idea in my mind of what I want it to look like and that’s where we go from there.
You cannot lose. Even with the bumps, you learn every single time.
Thank you for listening and watching. I can’t wait to hear from you over on my Facebook page. Go to TiffanyParsonBiz. It’s Facebook.com/TiffanyParsonBiz, or if you’re just doing a search on Facebook – Tiffany Parson. Look for that business page. Make sure you click Like and then let me know your thoughts on this particular podcast episode.
If you’re watching on YouTube, you can post right below the comments, the comments there, and I will be happy to respond from there.
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!