Esther Brown is the perfect example of a go-getter.
She decided she wanted to become a virtual assistant, then she set about to make that happen.
She got out there and pitched clients, and didn’t wait for everything to fall into place. She wait for a shiny new website (though she’s thinking of building one now), or crisp business cards.
In today’s Freelancer Spotlight, Esther shares how she got into freelancing as a VA.
Take it away, Esther!
What do you do and how long have you been in business?
I’m a full-time Virtual Assistant (VA). I started working with my first client in February 2016. I left my full time job at the end of February in order to devote my energy to growing my business (and working odd jobs to supplement income).
How did you get into freelancing?
I had been working at an esthetician’s for three years. But within three months of graduating and starting my career, I was already looking for the next opportunity.
The money and the hours were great, but I was unfulfilled.
I spent the better part of my three years there looking and applying for various jobs, and struggling to find something that was worth leaving for.
My day job was comfortable, and that is a hard thing to walk away from. In October 2015, I stumbled across an article on about becoming a Virtual Assistant, and knew this was exactly what I had been looking for.
What has been most challenging part of solopreneurship so far?
By far, the scariest part was deciding to do something I had never seen anyone do. I didn’t know anyone who did it successfully, and working for myself brings up a lot of insecurities.
No one I spoke to knew what a “virtual assistant” was, or how I was going to make a living doing this. Also, at that point, I had recently graduated, and did not want to use my education as a career any longer. This was a difficult decision to stick with, as all my friends and family thought I was being silly.
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
No, I never thought of that.
I knew that I was going to make this work. I quit my day job one month after starting my business.
All of my old co-workers were waiting, watching for me to fail.
I was never going to let that happen. I persisted. I pitched without fear, and continuously focused on moving forward.
There were many times within the first six months when I was worried about money, and at those times I thought about getting a part-time job.
But I wanted to make my dreams come true more than I wanted that part-time job, and working for someone else and punching a clock was in not part of that dream.
What tasks in your business would you like to outsource?
I do a fair amount of social media. I would love to outsource some of the “follow-up” time I do with each client’s social media account during the week.
I also need to build a website, and unfortunately, I do not have the time (or energy) to commit to doing it myself.
(Gina’s Tip: We’ve just spruced up this free course on how to build a website for your freelance business. Check it out!)
How do you stay motivated and productive when working solo?
I really like what I do.
I spend the majority of my time between two clients.
For one of them, I do customer service and support. This job is hourly, which keeps me motivated. The emails that are consistently rolling in also do that trick. There is no sneaking away from this inbox. Someone will always need something, and I am sometimes available seven days a week for this client.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
I consider my entire year a success. I left my job, started my own business, struggled to make ends meet, and now have a thriving full-time business.
The two clients that I spend most of my week working with have both had amazing changes. One was contemplating bankruptcy, and since I have created a strong social media presence, they are now thriving.
My other client, referred two other clients to me. There is nothing more flattering than having a happy client who refers their friends to you.
What are some specific strategies and advice that helped you grow?
Don’t let fear hold you back.
The best part about this job is that it’s virtual.
Pitch without fear! If you are worried about looking silly, just remember, you never have to see these people again!
Always pitch a personal email. As an assistant that manages an inbox, a “template” email automatically gets archived. Spend your time writing pitch letters, make them thought out, and (no matter what) keep going.
Someone once told me “act as if”. Always “act as if” you know what you are doing, have experience, and know exactly how to help your client (because you do)!
Be personable. Be you (you are awesome). Commit to figuring out whatever is asked of you. Persistence and confidence are the only two keys to success you will ever need.
What are you most excited about for your business next?
I am very excited to see what the rest of 2017 and 2018 hold.
This year I gave myself permission to dream bigger than I ever thought possible. I absolutely love what I do and have an immense amount of gratitude that I am lucky enough to be able to do it every day.
However, I am not stopping here. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it is only full of bigger and better things.
Pssst! If you want to hear more about how Esther starter her VA journey, check out this short 7-minute interview that Gina did with Esther.