We’re back with another post in the Student Success Stories series.
Why are we doing this? Glad you asked!
It’s because we want to feature people who took Gina’s 30 Days or Less courses and actually got serious about working on their freelance career. Every story in the series is a little bit different from the others. That’s because they’re real journeys, and everyone is on a different path.
This week we’re featuring Brea Horton, a social media manager based in Portland.
Thanks for answering our questions, Brea!
Name: Brea Horton
Course enrollment date: May 2017
Business launch date: July 2017, although I didn’t pitch to anyone until I pitched my first client, who signed with me.
Date hired by first client: July 24th, 2017
Hours worked per week: 15
Average monthly income: I hit $2640.00 in September, which is officially more than I made at my desk job!
Top three services/niches: social media management, email management, content editing
Hi, Brea! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey there! I’m a 25 year old Portland, OR native and dog mom to my giant one-year old St. Bernard, Moose. I enjoy coffee, rose and soggy cereal. (Don’t judge!)
What about your business?
I’ve always been a go-getter. When I get an idea or have a want, I make it happen.
It was no different with my business. I was stuck in a desk job that provided little value when I craved more. I learned that I could start my own business, and that same day I was on Pinterest reading every article and blog post I could get my eyes on about starting my own online biz.
How did you decide to start working online as a VA?
I was back in school after a three-year hiatus and fell in love with my new classes. This time around, I was majoring in Business.
I knew that I finally found a career path that had me EXCITED, and that’s marketing. I decided to try my hand at my own VA business so that I could start building my skills and clientele. I wanted to quit my 9-5 (actually 7-5 was more like it) ASAP.
I also knew that in order to do so, I had to just jump in! So I did.
And how long did it take you to earn your course investment back?
Technically, I didn’t put myself out there until the end of July, and I bought both courses in April. So, three months.
What was your biggest fear before you started your business?
I was afraid of failing. That was the scariest part.
Once I quit my job, the pressure was on to replace that income. I don’t have twice monthly paychecks to depend on anymore, so I have to MAKE that happen. I think that’s what gave me the most pause. But, then I told myself that even if I DID fail, the worst that could happen was that I would chalk it up as a loss and get a different job. Which, to be honest, still seemed better than staying stuck where I was at the time.
What was the most challenging part about getting started?
I struggle with impostor syndrome. I wish there was a cure for this, so let me know if anyone finds it!
I just had a hard time being confident in myself and the value that I bring into my client’s businesses. I’m getting more confident with each month, so I feel like the more I continue doing and learning, the better at tackling this I’ll get!
Another big one was pitching. I’m not alone here, I know, but pitching made me feel so “salesman-y.”
I decided to embrace my personality and hit prospective clients up in a way that made me sound like a real person when I pitch.
I often get really great feedback on my pitches from the clients who signed on with me. They tell me that my pitch is refreshing because I am more casual, less “businessy” and I really take the time to learn about their blog or business. That way, I can personalize my initial pitch to them in a way that makes them feel like I actually care about them and their business.
I also try to only pitch to clients that I can get excited about. If I am excited about what they stand for or what they are doing, then that will show in my pitch and my work.
How do you overcome impostor syndrome?
I fake it until I make it. Seriously. Confidence comes to me with the more real life practice, and I get that by working on tasks for my clients. I wholeheartedly stand by this phrase!
What has been your biggest success since you’ve started?
Signing my biggest and highest paying client yet at the end of September! She owns three local pet boutiques (talk about dream job for an animal lover like myself!) and I am handling the social media platforms for all three of her shops!
She was referred to me by another client of mine, so that was a major confidence boost!
What are you working on right now?
Maintaining my client roster while looking to add a couple more clients. I’m also excited to come up with more and more fun ideas for my new client’s social media marketing plans.
We have a lot of fun things in the works and I love that she is giving me the freedom to explore my ideas!
What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?
I am looking forward to continuing to grow my new business, and hopefully even begin to outsource a few simple tasks in 2018 if I hit my income goal of $7k/month.
In real life, you can find me tucked away in a coffee shop while I cram in some client work while sipping on a minimum of three shots on ice. Virtually, you can find me at www.breahorton.com, where I sometimes blog about marketing for bloggers and business owners! (Goal: spend more time on my blog!)